New government figures show that nearly 4,000 Canadians died from apparent opioid overdoses last year, with men the most likely victims and fentanyl the clear culprit.
The numbers are being released as the government unveils plans to severely restrict the way drug companies market opioids to doctors.
The death toll rose to almost 4,000 in 2017, up from about 3,000 in 2016.
The figures show that 78 per cent of victims were male and that the opioid death toll among men aged 30 to 39 was higher than any other leading cause of death.
Fentanyl or fentanyl analogues were blamed for 72 per cent of all overdose deaths.
Health Canada says marketing, such as through medical journal ads, presentations at conferences and other measures, can influence the way health professionals dispense prescriptions and tighter rules will help reduce over-prescribing.