Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Prescribing safe supply: ethical considerations for clinicians


The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the drug poisoning epidemic in a number of ways: individuals use alone more often, there is decreased access to harm reduction services and there has been an increase in the toxicity of the unregulated drug supply. In response to the crisis, clinicians, policy makers and people who use drugs have been seeking ways to prevent the worst harms of unregulated opioid use. One prominent idea is safe supply. One form of safe supply enlists clinicians to prescribe opioids so that people have access to drugs of known composition and strength. In this paper, we assess the ethical case for clinicians providing this service. As we describe, there is much that is unknown about safe supply. However, given the seriousness of the overdose death epidemic and the current limited evidence for safe supply’s efficacy, we argue that it is ethically permissible for clinicians to begin prescribing opioids for some select patients.

  • ethics
  • substance-related disorders

Data availability statement

No data are available.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Other content recommended for you