Opioids dispensed in Canada will soon have to carry stickers that warning the drugs can cause dependence, addiction and overdoses.
The new rules announced by Health Canada Wednesday come as multiple provinces face an ever-escalating overdose crisis related to illicit drug use.
The stickers will come with a handout that explains how to spot symptoms of an opioid overdose, as well as warnings to not share the drugs and to store them out of reach of children.
Health Canada said this is the first time it’s requiring any medication to come with warning labels and patient handouts.
The rules are also the first application of Vanessa’s Law, or the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act, which was passed after the 15-year-old daughter of Ontario MP Terence Young died in 2000 while taking a prescription drug for a stomach ailment. That drug was later deemed unsafe and pulled from the market.
Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor has said despite the crisis, legalizing or decriminalizing opioids is off the table.
“By decriminalizing drugs, we’re certainly not going to fix the problem that’s on the streets right now,” she said.
The new labelling rules will come into effect in October.