March 12, 2012
Prescription narcotic addiction has been a growing problem in Ontario. Recent studies have suggested an increase in opioid painkiller addiction as playing a contributing role in hundreds of overdose deaths.
On March 1, 2012, Purdue Pharma stopped distributing the brandname opioid formulation OxyContin into the Canadian market and replaced it with OxyNEO, a tamper-resistant tablet that is more difficult to crush and abuse.
Ontario also decided to restrict access to OxyNEO by funding it through the Exceptional Access Program and the Facilitated Access to Palliative Care Drugsmechanism. This decision balances appropriate use, patient care and the growing problem of opioid addiction in Ontario, and was based on advice from Ontario's Committee to Evaluate Drugs and extensive discussions with pain specialists, addiction experts and other health care providers.
I support these changes as a necessary response to a life-threatening problem. At the same time, Ontario is taking action to help recovering OxyContin users find addiction treatment.
Working with my colleagues Minister Wynne and Minister Hoskins, we are developing a partnership strategy to monitor the impact of prescription narcotic changes and to immediately expand access to addiction services. This strategy includes :
As part of Ontario's Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, we are creating a more coordinated and responsive system to identify problems and intervene early, improving outcomes for those struggling with mental health and addictions.
I will continue to work closely with health care partners and community leaders to ensure a coordinated response for those struggling with prescription narcotics addiction.
Zita Astravas, 416-327-9728
David Jensen, 416-314-6197
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
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