After years of living with chronic back and hip pain, Ken Jones was finally diagnosed with spina bifida. More than a year ago he found a doctor who prescribed him fentanyl and things improved.
“Finally we found something that was going to work,” Jones said. “It…was fentanyl and it’s come out in a patch.
“I was finally having some quality of life. I could get up, I could move, I could sleep.”
Jones was using a high dose of the opioid but then in June the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. released new guidelines for doctors who prescribe opioids in response to the increasing number of overdose deaths in B.C. involving people who were unknowingly taking drugs laced with fentanyl.
READ MORE: Fentanyl chemicals to be restricted, Health Canada says
With the new rules in place, Jones’ doctor has reduced his dose.
In a statement, the College of Physicians of B.C. said:
“The College hopes that B.C. physicians will prescribe more cautiously and provide appropriate treatment advice to their patients. Note that the document advises that physicians must always prescribe the lowest effective dosage of opioid medication.”
But Jones’ fiancée Julia Hillman said the college’s “sweeping approach” is affecting “people out there that live with chronic pain.”
READ MORE: B.C. Government to tackle crisis of fentanyl drug overdose deaths
Jones said he now has to decide whether he wants to live in pain or use his patches faster than he’s supposed to before eventually running out.
“He has a right to a quality of life and people are missing that right now in this hysteria,” Hillman said.
It’s unclear how many others are in the same situation but Jones wants to see changes so people who are legitimate users of fentanyl can continue getting the treatment they need.
“It’s a black place you go to when your pain gets too bad,” he said.
– With files from Jill Bennett