The newly-created British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) will receive an additional $6.9 million in funding from the province, along with a $1 million donation from local businessman Peter Bull.
The centre, led by Evan Wood, a Professor in the Department of Medicine and Canada Research Chair in Inner City Medicine, is the first of its kind in Canada, focusing on education and training, research and evaluation, and clinical care guidance related to problematic substance use. The centre has established a network of clinicians, educators and researchers from across the province aimed at strengthening the provincial system of care for people struggling with problematic substance use.
The BCCSU, which had received $5 million in start-up funding from the province in September, has already developed a treatment guideline for opioid use disorder for B.C. physicians and nurse practitioners. The guideline will come into effect June 5, replacing the existing methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone guideline developed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.
“The BCCSU is already establishing itself as a world-class research centre, and has begun developing recommendations, resources and training that will help us improve the care and treatments for people struggling with substance use issues,” said B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake, in announcing the additional funding, which includes $1.9 million in ongoing funding to support the centre’s operations. “This additional funding will help boost our efforts in responding to the overdose crisis but also set a course for best practice over the long term and for all addictions.”
The provincial support, including $1.9 million in operating funds, is being augmented by a $1 million donation over five years provided by Peter Bull, the president of P.M. Bull & Company, a private investment firm, and the president of Blenheim Realty, a commercial real estate company. Bull is a director on the Providence Health Care Board.
“We know that Dr. Wood and his team are on the leading edge of new medically targeted treatments for substance use disorders, and the BCCSU needs more resources to be as effective as possible, as soon as possible,” Bull said. “We as a community need to step in, because we can really make a difference.”
The BCCSU will develop a robust set of supports for the provincial health system to address opioid and other substance use disorders. This will include overseeing training and monitoring of opioid substitution treatment prescribers, which the College has done successfully since the program was established in 1996. At the same time, the College will enhance its focus on monitoring opioid prescriptions and other medications at risk of diversion or non-medical use.
The BCCSU’s new role will support the implementation of best practices across the addiction treatment continuum, from acute care through to recovery, as well as routine health system monitoring and evaluation in this area.
“I know that the families and patients we work with are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from the Province to help create a focused centre with a mandate to put forward best evidence for substance-use prevention, treatment and care,” Dr. Wood said. “Through collaboration, we will demonstrate how effective a provincial response can be when science and best evidence are integrated into care.”
Since Oct. 1, the BCCSU has hosted six training sessions throughout the province with more than 550 health-care providers on how to treat patients who struggle with opioid addiction. Over that period, it has also hosted several provincial community engagement sessions with provincial groups representing people who use drugs, people in recovery and families affected by drug use and overdoses.
A co-author of more than 400 scientific papers, Dr. Wood brings years of experience in the area of evidence-based addiction research, education and care. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Addiction Medicine and the principal investigator of a U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse funded research-training program.