Opioids kill hundreds of Canadians a year. Why are doctors still prescribing so many?

August 10, 2015 – Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

David Juurlink sees them daily — old and young, with strokes or pneumonia or broken bones or drug-related overdoses, accidents, constipation.

Their ailments and backgrounds and health conditions run the gamut. And they’re all on high doses of a drug five times more powerful than morphine.

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Opposition calls for action on Ontario opioid deaths

November 13, 2014 – Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

Ontario needs to rethink the way it treats addiction and pain if it wants to tackle a worsening prescription opioid health crisis, critics say.

Preliminary figures obtained by Global News indicate opioids are killing more Ontarians than ever before – and the province has no plan to shift away from its one-drug crackdown even as the opioid crisis shifts to such less-notorious drugs as Fentanyl and Hydromorph Contin.

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Ontario urges feds not to allow generic OxyContin onto market

Michelle Siu for the Globe and Mail

Saturday, July 7, 2012 – Globe and Mail

ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

Ontario is “strongly urging” the federal government not to let generic brands of the popular painkiller OxyContin into Canada once Purdue Pharmaceuticals’ patent runs out this fall.

The expiration of Purdue’s OxyContin patent on Nov. 25 opens the door for other companies to manufacture cheaper generic versions of the controlled-release oxycodone. Purdue will continue to make a new, tamper-resistant patented drug – OxyNEO – introduced to replace OxyContin earlier this year.

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As more drugs crack down on oxycodone abuse, addiction experts fear public insurance limits don’t go far enough

Photo by Michelle Siu for the Globe and Mail

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

Nova Scotia has become the latest province to clamp down on OxyContin prescriptions, with Health Minister Maureen MacDonald announcing the province will only pay for the potent painkiller’s replacement in extenuating circumstances – for cancer-related pain or palliative care.

Nova Scotia’s move comes days after Ontario, with the highest rates of prescription-opioid addiction in the country, announced it is tightening rules for the painkiller.

Physicians called the move a step forward, but warned that changing publicly funded drug plans won’t be nearly enough to stem abuse from the prescription drug.

“There is a lot more that needs to be done,” said David Juurlink, a drug-safety specialist at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. “These drugs should be harder to obtain, harder to prescribe – and certainly at high doses.”

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