U.S. drug officials are warning police and border guards to be on the lookout for Canadian generic versions of the widely abused painkiller OxyContin after the Canadian government gave the stamp of approval to six generic versions of the drug. According to this article, the warnings have come from U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and Montana’s attorney general Steve Bullock, and the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy has issued a notice stating 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.”
Health Canada opened the door for generic versions of OxyContin in November following the expiration of the patent held by Purdue Pharma for its long-acting formulation of oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin. The move came despite urgings from some of the country’s leading pain doctors and researchers to hold off, according to this article.
OxyContin in Canada was phased out earlier this year by Purdue and replaced by an abuse-resistant version known as OxyNEO. But the newly-approved generics will use the same older formulation in the now discontinued Oxy-Contin, the article notes.
Canadians are the second-largest consumers of prescription narcotics and other controlled substances per capita in the world, according to the International Narcotics Control Board.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is facing its own decision in the coming months on whether to allow generic versions of extended-release painkillers, with a U.S. patent on the original formulation of OxyContin set to expire in April 2013.