Health Canada will allow imports of opioid dependency treatment drugs

The drugs are not marketed in Canada but are approved for use by the U.S., the EU or Switzerland

A man walks past a mural by street artist Smokey D. about the fentanyl and opioid overdose crisis, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, B.C., on Thursday December 22, 2016. The number of overdose deaths related to illicit drugs in British Columbia leapt to 755 by the end of November, a more than 70-per-cent jump over the number of fatalities recorded during the same time period last year. The B.C. Coroners Service says the powerful opioid fentanyl remains present in a high number of the fatalities and was detected in 374 of the cases, or about 60 per cent of the deaths. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

(Darryl Dyck/CP)

TORONTO – Health Canada has introduced new regulations that will allow provinces and territories to import urgently needed medications to treat opioid dependence.

The federal department has published an initial list of drugs that are not marketed in Canada but are approved for use by the United States, the European Union or Switzerland.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam says the federal government will now permit these drugs to be imported into Canadian jurisdictions that have notified Health Canada of an urgent public health need.

Medications to treat opioid use disorder and for tuberculosis have been identified by public health officials as those needing immediate access.

Examples of other drugs that could be approved for importation through the process are those for treating pandemic viruses or other public and military health emergencies.

Drugs will remain on the list for one year, after which they would be removed unless Health Canada received notification for continued access to the medication to address an urgent or continuing public health need.