From the CEO

The CMPA is preparing for our major member event of the year, the 2016 annual meeting and information session, which will be held on August 24th in Vancouver. If you have ever been interested in understanding how the CMPA determines and optimizes your fees to deliver cost-effective medical liability protection, I would urge you to attend. Learning how the modern CMPA functions as an essential component of the healthcare system is both important and interesting.

The year’s topic of the information session is “Opioid prescribing: Conversations. Collaboration. Solutions.” I’m sure you will agree that opioid prescribing for chronic pain is a serious and complex issue. To put the problem in perspective, Canada ranks second only to the United States in per capita consumption of prescription opioids. Also, the use of prescription opioids in North America is more than double that of the European Union, Australia, and New Zealand.1

Clearly, the increasing use and abuse of opioids is a phenomenon that requires urgent attention. The CMPA believes we need a better understanding of the underlying reasons for over-prescription and over-utilization of opioids and what can be done about it.

In Vancouver we intend to share meaningful information about the CMPA’s experience with medical-legal difficulties associated with opioid prescribing and look at specific approaches that have worked for some physicians, so that other physicians may improve their opioid prescribing practices.

Educating physicians about prescribing appropriately is just one means of addressing the problem. As a society, we also need to come to grips with the multitude of existing system issues, and develop system-level improvements aimed at preventing harm from opioids. For example, better controls and systems to track opioid prescriptions would help physicians to know when a patient is seeking opioids from more than one doctor. Supports for physicians practising in regions of high drug use and who may be challenged or threatened by patients to provide prescription opioids may also help.

The CMPA’s information session will include a panel of experts from Canada and the United States who will discuss and answer questions on many aspects of opioid prescribing. I believe the session will be highly valuable for attendees, and for those of you who cannot be there in person, a webcast of the session will be available on our website.   

So, welcome everybody! I invite you to attend what will undoubtedly be a thought-provoking session, and look forward to seeing many of you in Vancouver. 


Hartley Stern, MD, FRCSC, FACS


  1. Evidence Network. Backgrounder: Canada’s prescription opioid crisis [Internet]. University of Manitoba. 2014 Jul 31 [cited 2016 March 4]. Available from