OxyNeo Said to Cause New Wave of Oxycodone Abuse In Canada

bottles of prescription drugs

Drug maker Purdue Pharma’s patent on Oxycontin recently expired, opening the door to wider distribution of generic oxycodone. Yet Canada’s Health Minister refuses to ban the opioid, concerned that increased government control might lead to more arbitrary drug legislation. Canadian police, doctors, and public health officials fear a new wave of drug abuse as generic oxycodone is sold in Canada.

Canada’s Health Minister Leona Aglukkag issued a controversial statement concerning drug legislation in Canada, stating that regulators are not permitted to pick and choose which drugs are on the market just because they are abused by some. Oxycodone provides effective pain management for many people, and banning the drug would allow greater government interference.

Oxycontin vs. OxyNeo

Oxycontin is a powerful opioid painkiller introduced in 1996. In Canada, an estimated 200,000 people abuse the drug, crushing it into powder in order to snort or inject it. This circumvents the time-release formula, leading to an immediate high as oxycodone is rushed to the bloodstream all at once.

Purdue Pharma stopped all sales of Oxycontin in Canada months ago, instead promoting their new product, OxyNeo. OxyNeo is fairly tamper-resistant, as it is too hard to crush and turns to gel when it comes into contact with moisture. Even smoking it is ineffective.

With generic oxycodone available, addicts will not have to worry about Purdue Pharma’s new formula.

Opioid Addiction in Canada

Opioid addiction is at astonishing levels in Canada. In fact, Canadians are among the highest users of prescription opioids in the world. Researchers fear that this addiction is mostly medically-induced, with users initially following doctor’s orders and ending up dependent. A recent study revealed that most cases involve older women living in suburban and rural areas. They are so rarely exposed to drug addiction that when they begin experiencing the symptoms, they may not know how to cope. The withdrawal that comes when coming down off the drug–even after a few days’ use–can be extremely uncomfortable, with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, respiratory problems, severe mood swings, anxiety, and depression.

Opioid addiction is also a problem in tribal reservations across the nation. In many cases, over half of the reservations are reportedly addicted to oxycodone.

These numbers continue to climb. A recent study revealed that the number of Ontarians seeking treatment for painkiller abuse has doubled since 2005.

Health Canada plans to target manufacturers and distributors, implementing strict tracking on sales and distribution. Unexplained spikes could be an indication of abuse and must be reported. Any evidence of abuse or diversion will be cause for a license to be revoked.

OxyNeo is being given stricter rules, as well. Starting in February of 2013, doctors will have to make special application for patients in need of OxyNeo. Only those being treated for severe pain from cancer will be allowed a prescription without applying.

Even with this, just the release of the drug alone will cause another spike in addiction. Many will doctor shop or come up with ‘fake’ illnesses in order to get the drugs. Others will try to get them off the street, from family members or friends or even from pill mills. Controlling the current medications as well as the new generic versions of prescriptions is extremely important in stopping the problem as a result.

Contact us for more information on this topic or how to help someone with a prescription drug abuse problem.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.