‘This is about keeping people’s feet to the fire’: Report tackles prescription drug abuse

Rebecca Lindell and Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

This isn’t the first slew of suggestions on how to tackle Canada’s “crisis” in prescription opioid misuse. But many hope it’ll be the last.

A report released Wednesday by the Canadian Centre for Substance Abuse culminates a year-long mind-meld of people representing almost every group in the country with a stake in stopping painkillers from creating addicts, drug dealers and deaths.

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Ontario considers changing who prescribes opioids, and how

ontario opioid deaths

Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews wants to re-examine who’s allowed to prescribe opioids, how they prescribe them and what pills the government pays for.

The drop in OxyContin and its replacement OxyNEO is “a success,” she told Global News in an interview Tuesday. But “there’s more to be done. … Who should be able to prescribe these drugs? What form is the right form? These are very important questions.”

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Canada’s the world capital of potent opioids, and that makes its neighbour nervous

Click to compare Canada's hydromorph contin consumption with the rest of the world.

Click to compare Canada’s hydromorph contin consumption with the rest of the world.

Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

Health Canada rattled nerves south of the border last fall when it approved generic versions of OxyContin.

United States drug czar Gil Kerlikowske issued an alert to law-enforcement agencies, warning that “the potential exists for diversion into the United States because the old formulations, which are easier to abuse, are unavailable in the United States,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

“This alert seeks to raise awareness of this change with law enforcement along the Northern Border so law enforcement and border officials can work jointly to prevent diversion.”

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One company, two drugs, two takes on pill safety

Anna Mehler Paperny, Global News

Purdue Pharmaceuticals markets a long-acting, non-tamper resistant opioid in Canada but argues that another long-acting, non-tamper resistant opioid in the U.S. is too dangerous to approve.

In an 80-page submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last July – quoting Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews, among several others – Purdue argued that allowing generic versions of OxyContin on the market without tamper-proofing mechanisms “would have a number of detrimental effects and would be flatly inconsistent with the Agency’s mission to promote and protect the public health.”

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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


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

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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Provinces clamp down on OxyContin abuse

Photo by Michelle Siu for the Globe and Mail

Saturday, February 18, 2012 – Globe and Mail

The epicentres of Canada’s prescription pill problem have said they’ll only pay for the leading brand of potent painkillers under special circumstances – one of the most dramatic steps taken in years to tackle the country’s fastest-growing addiction.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which manufactures OxyContin, is replacing it with a drug that’s supposed to be less prone to abuse. But some provinces have decided that’s not good enough.

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