Update On OxyContin Partnership Strategy
April 4, 2012
"Ontario has taken strong action to address the potential health effects of OxyContin's removal from the Canadian market. Working with my colleagues Ministers Wynne and Hoskins, we've put in place a strategy to monitor the impact of prescription narcotic changes and to immediately expand access to addiction services.
"With guidance from the Expert Working Group on Narcotic Addiction, we're expanding harm-reduction measures, reinforcing clinical best practices for opioid use and have streamlined access to Suboxone. There is still more work to do, but our health care system is ready to respond so that recovering OxyContin users get the care they need."
- Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care
In January 2012, Purdue Pharma formally notified the ministry of its firm intent to cease OxyContin production by February 29, 2012.
On March 1, 2012, an Expert Working Group on Narcotic Addiction was convened by Minister Matthews to provide advice for strengthening the existing addiction treatment system in support of Ontarians with opioid addictions.
On March 12, 2012, Minister Matthews announced a partnership strategy with the support of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services and the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, and with guidance from the Expert Working Group on Narcotic Addiction, to monitor the impact of the removal of OxyContin from the Canadian market and to expand access to addiction services in Ontario.
Investments In Treatment
With support from the Ministry of Children and Youth Services through the Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy, Ontario is providing additional resources for :
- Telemedicine: The Ontario Telemedicine Network has purchased equipment to expand access to addiction treatment and consultation.Â The Ministry is working with its partners, including the LHINs and Health Canada, to determine priority areas for distribution.
- Overdose Kit Training and Supplies: The Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Program has purchased Naloxone for use in overdose kits intended for distribution to harm reduction programs throughout the province. Last week, front-line workers in harm reduction programs were trained via Webinar on the use of Naloxone overdose kits; and
- Surveillance: Implementation of real-time surveillance of opiate overdose and withdrawal in 73 emergency departments across Ontario.
Expanded Treatment Options
Ontario has expanded addiction treatment options for people addicted to opioids, including :
- Methadone: The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, which administers the provincial physician methadone program, has physicians available to temporarily relocate in order to provide methadone treatment in high-need communities across the province. Communities in need are encouraged to contact ConnexOntario: 1-800-565-8603
- Suboxone: In January 2012, Ontario streamlined the review of applications for Suboxone as a treatment option for opioid-dependence. The turnaround time for Suboxone requests is currently three business days, and there is no current backlog of requests.
Available under the Exceptional Access Program, Suboxone may be provided :
- To patients who have failed, have significant intolerance, have a contraindication to, or who are at high risk for toxicity with methadone; or
- In cases when a methadone maintenance program is not available or accessible; or
- If a patient has been on a waiting list for three months or longer for methadone treatment.
- Withdrawal Management: detoxification programs are available across the province in both residential and community settings.
Ongoing Monitoring And Updates
The government has been monitoring the OxyContin situation since late February and is receiving regular updates and data to help guide decisions:
- Trends of drug use and what's being identified by drug users from public health unit needle exchange programs and other harm reduction programs;
- Opioid-related emergency department visits and hospital admissions;
- Opioid-related deaths from the Office of the Chief Coroner;
- Calls about opioid use and wait list for addiction treatment programs from Ontario's Drug and Alcohol Helpline;
- New admissions of people who identify opioids as a problem drug to Ontario addiction agencies from the Drug and Alcohol Treatment Information System (DATIS);
- Demand for methadone services from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario; and
- Impact on and demand for addiction treatment programs and services from Local Health Integration Networks.
To date, the surveillance information has not shown any significant increases in demand for addiction and treatment services across the province. However, Ontario continues to monitor the situation very closely with our healthcare partners and the Expert Working Group on Narcotic Addiction.
- Since 2003, Ontario has increased funding by 49.6 per cent for addiction programs.
- In 2011/12, the ministry allocated approximately $172.3 million for addiction programs for over 150 substance abuse and problem gambling treatment organizations that offer withdrawal management, community counselling, residential treatment and support services, as well as supportive housing for people with problematic substance use.
Members of the media :
Zita Astravas, 416-327-9728
Andrew Morrison, 416-314-6197
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
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