Political and Policy Lessons from the US in Responding to Opioid Epidemic

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University of Ottawa/Université d'Ottawa, Faculty of Social Sciences/Faculté des sciences sociales

FSS Building, room 4006

University of Ottawa, 120 University/120 Université

Ottawa, ON K1N6N5

Canada

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When it comes to the opioid epidemic, can Canada learn from political and policy lessons of the United States?

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Both the United States and Canada have seen an explosion in opioid-related overdoses and other public health consequences. While the opioid epidemic has affected other industrialized countries, its impact has been particularly devastating to our two countries. Indeed, earlier this year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Donald Trump put aside animosity from trade disputes to pledge to work together on this shared crisis.

While there was criticism about the lack of focus on opioids in the recent Canadian election, the opioid epidemic in the United States has a large role in American politics and policymaking, resulting in some of the only bipartisan healthcare legislation passed in the current political environment. This presentation will offer a general overview on the American approach to the opioid crisis and its effect in health policy and criminal justice issues. Additionally, this proposal will focus on one policy approach in the United States as a case study on federalism: prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs), or the use of information technology for public health surveillance. But while PDMPs have a role in harm reduction, there are concerns that their use can lead to a “chilling effect”: government officials may want to utilize PDMP data not only for public health but also for law enforcement. This conflict is playing out as the Trump administration seeks to influence state PDMP operations but also as it seeks to force a state PDMP to grant access to federal law enforcement.

Despite differences between the two countries, there are similarities and lessons that Canada can learn from the experience in the United States and the approach of different states. With the federal elections behind Canada, it is timely for policymakers and advocates here to look at the American experience to fashion policy solutions that are appropriate for Canada.

Speaker:

Oliver Kim is a Fulbright Scholar at the Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa.

Event sponsored by the Centre on Governance, Fulbright Canada, Ottawa Hub for Harm Reduction, and the University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics.

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University of Ottawa/Université d'Ottawa, Faculty of Social Sciences/Faculté des sciences sociales

FSS Building, room 4006

University of Ottawa, 120 University/120 Université

Ottawa, ON K1N6N5

Canada

View Map

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