Tag Archives: Canada

Non-tamper-proof Oxy hitting U.S. from Canada

DRUG BANNEDAn older form of the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin that has been banned in the United States is still showing up in some areas of the country, possibly making the journey from Canada, where it is still legal, according to this article. In 2013, the FDA banned generic versions of OxyContin, which could easily be crushed, in favor of a tamper-resistant version produced exclusively by Oxy maker Purdue Pharma under a new patent. The Canadian government has so far continued to approve generic, crushable forms of oxycodone that are highly prone to abuse — though it has recently indicated it may soon force all opioid manufacturers to render their products tamper-resistant.

The news came as a study into skyrocketing opioid deaths in Canada found that painkillers are responsible for one in eight deaths among young adults in Ontario, according to this article. Opioid overdoses killed nearly 6,000 people in Ontario between 1991 and 2010, half of them under the age of 42, the study found.

Canada is the world’s second largest per capita consumer of prescription opioids after the United States.

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Fentanyl, hydromorphone replacing Oxy in Canada

PillsTighter controls on the popularly abused painkiller OxyContin in Canada have had positive results, but experts say the country’s massive pill addiction problem is still spiraling out of control: in 2010, for the first time, Canada surpassed the United States to become the highest opioid-consuming country, per capita, in the world, according to this article.

Moreover, in 2011, twice as many Ontarians were killed by opioid overdoses as drivers killed in car accidents, and addiction treatment programs are overflowing with people addicted to publicly funded drugs, the article adds.

As you may remember, OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma replaced the painkiller last March in Canada with OxyNEO, an alternative billed as “tamper-resistant” because it is harder to crush. Today, Ontario’s OxyNEO prescriptions are about 60% what OxyContin prescriptions were a year ago; in Newfoundland, they’re 22%; in B.C., 67%, according to the article.

But other long-acting opioids such as fentanyl and hydromorphone — including Hydromorph Contin, also made by Purdue — are now among the fastest-growing causes of Ontario’s opioid overdose deaths, the article says.

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Naloxone awareness can combat opiate deaths: WRCPC


Although opiate overdoses are skyrocketing in the U.S., many people still don’t know about naloxone, which literally reverses the dangerous effects of taking too much OxyContin or heroin by counteracting the depression of the central nervous system and respiratory system. (This always amazes me, but I myself didn’t know about naloxone until well after my brother’s heroin overdose death in 2009. It took less than 10 minutes for me to get trained in Narcan use by the wonderful folks at the D.O.P.E. Project, a nonprofit whose mission is to reduce fatal overdose deaths by providing overdose prevention education and naloxone to drug users and their loved ones — and if you live in the Bay Area, I highly suggest contacting them to get trained.)

In Canada — which is second only to the U.S. in per-capita consumption of prescription opiates — naloxone costs less than $12, but isn’t widely distributed or acknowledged, according to the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. In a powerful new short film, the WRCPC explains how naloxone can help save lives and highlights the need for expanding overdose prevention.

Distributing the life-saving opioid overdose reverser naloxone can save one life for every 227 naloxone kits distributed, a study found earlier this year.

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U.S. drug officials fear flood of generic Oxy

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.

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Canada OKs generic Oxy that isn’t abuse-resistant

The Canadian government has given the stamp of approval to six generic versions of the widely abused painkiller OxyContin, despite urgings from some of the country’s leading pain doctors and researchers to hold off, according to this article.

The green light from Health Canada came just after the expiration of the patent held by Purdue Pharma for its long-acting formulation of oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin, the article says.

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.

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Prescription drug database curbing abuse in B.C.: study

In Canada, where prescription drug addiction is rampant, a real-time prescription drug monitoring database in the province of British Columbia appears to be having a positive impact on abuse there, according to a new study published in the journal of the Canadian Medical Association. The implementation of a centralized prescription network was associated with a “dramatic” reduction in inappropriate prescriptions for opioids and benzodiazepines, the authors of the study said. Inappropriate opioid prescriptions to people on social assistance dropped from 3.2 percent to 2.1 percent after the new system, called PharmaNet, was introduced in 1995. Meanwhile, suspicious prescriptions of benzodiazepines, which exacerbate the side effects of opioids, fell from 1.2 percent to 0.71 percent.

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. Yet the country lacks a national prescription drug tracking system, making it difficult to monitor cases of addiction and related deaths.

This recent editorial in the New York Times argues that doctors have contributed to the growing epidemic of overdose deaths and addiction by overprescribing opioids, mostly due to a desire to treat pain more compassionately.

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