Prescribed safer opioid supply: A scoping review of the evidence

Scoping review
Ledlie, Shaleesa et al

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Full Text Available


Open Access / OK to Reproduce


Peer Reviewed



We conducted a scoping review of literature describing client outcomes from formal opioid supply programs providing prescriptions for pharmaceutical opioids, and the perceptions of involved clients/providers.

Findings/Key points

We generated eight themes summarizing topics in the available literature: opioid-related toxicities, infectious complications, other clinical outcomes, client-reported outcomes, program access barriers, diversion, program retention, and costs to the healthcare system. Specific findings included low rates of opioid toxicities, improved physical and mental health, and improved quality of life among clients. A lack of access to adequate opioid doses and the limited range of opioid options offered within safer opioid supply programs was described by clients and providers as a potential reason for diversion and a barrier to program access. Generally, evidence suggests that safer opioid supply programs are beneficial to clients through measurable outcomes. However, the available literature has important limitations, including limited inferences about the effectiveness, safety, and potential for diversion within safer opioid supply programs. Further research is needed to support the ongoing evaluation of safer opioid supply programs as one component of a multifactorial response to escalating rates of substance-related harms.


24 publications comprising 17 peer-reviewed and seven grey literature publications were included in our study.


Safer supply
Evidence base