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Posted November 26, 2012

Health Care

Ontario Takes Action to Limit Access to Generic OxyContin

Queens Park - A recent study found that the annual social costs from OxyContin abuse could be as high as $318 million in Ontario, and $504 million nationwide. The addition of oxycodone controlled-release tablets to the Ontario drug formulary was associated with a five-fold increase in oxycodone-related mortality and a 41 per cent increase in overall opioid-related mortality. The Narcotics Safety and Awareness Act, 2010 came into force on Nov.1, 2011

Ontario is helping save lives and protect the health of Ontarians by proposing regulations to limit access to generic OxyContin unless it is tamper-resistant.

The province believes that the cost to society of the reintroduction of the more easily abused version of OxyContin far outweighs the financial benefits of the reduced generic price. The proposed regulations will help limit access to easily-abused generic OxyContin, protecting patients and those who may be addicted to prescription narcotics.

Ontario is also ensuring that patients who legitimately need prescription drugs to manage pain will continue to have access to a wide variety of pain medications, including the more tamper-resistant OxyNeo.

The province is working with physicians and pharmacists regarding appropriate prescribing and dispending practices to protect Ontarians.

Ontario has already taken strong steps to address narcotic addiction issues, including:

• Investing $15 million to increase access to opioid addiction services and treatment across the province
• Implementing the Narcotics Monitoring System to track all prescription narcotics and other controlled substance medications dispensed in the province
• Removing easily abused OxyContin from the Ontario Drug Benefit Formulary and placing tamper-resistant OxyNeo in the Exceptional Access Program
• Educating prescribers and partnering with the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health to create treatment guidelines for front line workers, doctors and nurses

Promoting the appropriate dispensing and use of narcotic substances is part of the Action Plan for Health Care’s priority of keeping Ontario families healthy.

“Prescription narcotic abuse has destroyed the lives of too many Ontarians. These regulations will save lives and prevent addiction. While these steps help limit access, a ban on generic Oxycontin remains the single most effective way to prevent the devastating impact that this drug can have on families. That’s why I continue to join my provincial counterparts, doctors, pharmacists, police and First Nations leaders in calling on the federal government to reconsider their decision.” - Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

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