New free online accredited course: Methadone for pain in palliative care

Earlier this year Canadian Virtual Hospice launched – a free, online course for physicians wishing to improve their knowledge and develop core competencies for methadone prescribing in palliative care. The course is also relevant to pharmacists and nurses managing patients prescribed methadone. To date, over 115 health care providers have received the certificate of completion.

“It’s important that more physicians be able to prescribe methadone because there are certain pain circumstances where it provides almost a remarkable unique benefit,” said Dr. Mike Harlos Medical Director of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority Palliative Care Team, who co-led the development team with colleague Dr. Pippa Hawley of the University of British Columbia and BC Cancer Agency.

Methadone is a proven, cost-effective pain control alternative. It is particularly useful in cases of opioid intolerance. It can improve outcomes for palliative patients wishing to remain at home. However, Methadone is a federally regulated drug; a special exemption license is required to prescribe. As a result, there is a lack of physicians who can prescribe Methadone.

This self-directed course is accredited by the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. It includes three modules:

  • Introduction and Indications for Methadone
  • Initiation for Analgesia
  • Safety and Support for Physicians and Patients

Healthcare providers can work through the modules at their own pace from the comfort of their home or office.

To obtain the exemption license, physicians must fulfil the requirements of their provincial licensing body. was developed by Canadian Virtual Hospice and leading Canadian

palliative pain management specialists, in collaboration with The Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians, The College of Family Physicians of Canada, Pallium Canada and de Souza Institute. Funding for the development of the course was provided by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.

For more information, visit or contact (204) 478-1758