Windsor·Audio

Sarnia doctor to help reduce opioid prescriptions in Erie St. Clair LHIN

Dr. Blake Pearson has been put in charge of reducing the number of opioid prescriptions issued in Windsor-Essex, Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent.

LHIN covering Windsor-Essex, Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent has highest opioid prescription rate in Ontario

Dr. Blake Pearson is leading the Erie St. Clair LHIN's addictions and opioid strategy. (Meredith Deuber)

According to Health Quality Ontario, the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) — which covers Windsor-Essex, Sarnia-Lambton and Chatham-Kent — has the highest opioid prescription rates in the province, with 18 prescriptions per 100 people.

While opioids are an effective way to relieve pain, addiction to and overdoses from the drugs have become what's considered a major public health crisis.

As a result, the Erie-St. Clair LHIN has appointed Dr. Blake Pearson from Sarnia to encourage doctors to reduce opioid prescription rates in the region.

"There's a number of different ways I'd like to go about [reducing prescribing opioids]," he said. "Whether it's working with the surgeons to reduce post-op prescribing ... working with dentists to reduce their prescribing, or certain outreaches we're going to do with family physicians as well."

Pearson, who specializes in cannabinoid medicine, stressed it's not as simple as switching patients over to cannabis-based drugs, but they can help.

"The way I view it, it's certainly an option in physician's toolbox now, so if we can ... provide more alternatives to opioids in the outset, then I feel pretty strongly we'd be able to reduce the number of [opioid] prescriptions."

Tap on the player above to hear Pearson's conversation with Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre.

Pearson said he'll be looking at introducing strategies used in other parts of the province to help reduce the prescription rate in Erie St. Clair.

He noted that in London, there are protocols in place which limit the length of opioid prescriptions for patients recovering from surgery.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

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