Health Bulletins

Generic Oxycodone Controlled-Release Tablets

November 23, 2012

Dear Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Health :

RE: Generic Oxycodone Controlled-Release Tablets

I am writing to you about our mutual concerns regarding the introduction of an easily-abused form of generic oxycodone controlled-release (“CR”) tablets in Canada. As we discussed in Halifax, prior to the introduction of a more tamper-resistant formulation, oxycodone CR (OxyContin) tablets were linked to abuse and misuse, resulting in an increase in addiction, overdose and death that has harmed too many Canadian families.

Despite our unanimous appeal as provincial and territorial health ministers to delay the approval of generic oxycodone CR tablets, earlier this week the Federal Health Minister announced that Health Canada will allow the approval of generic oxycodone CR tablets for the Canadian market. Since this announcement, doctors, pharmacists, First Nations leaders, and Chiefs of Police have reaffirmed their deep concerns with this course of action.

While only the Federal Government has the authority to approve or deny a drug for sale in Canada, Ontario is prepared to take all appropriate courses of action, including regulatory measures, to reduce prescription drug abuse and addictions in Ontario. This will help to ensure that Ontarians who need pain relief continue to receive appropriate access to prescription opioids in a safe and effective manner.

I am writing to let you know what further steps Ontario is taking to minimize the impact of the Health Canada decision.

We are proposing regulations whereby long-acting oxycodone products will not be considered for funding under the Ontario Drug Benefit Act unless they meet tamper-resistant criteria. Furthermore, no long-acting oxycodone products will be designated as an interchangeable product under the Drug Interchangeability and Dispensing Fee Act unless they meet tamper-resistant criteria. This will limit the situations where the more easily-abused generic oxycodone CR tablets could be dispensed.

If approved, the draft regulations would be made retroactive and would come into force on November 23, 2012. The draft regulations have been posted for consultation on the Ministry’s website to provide the public with an opportunity to review and comment on this important issue of great public interest.

I recognize that pain is a serious issue, and I am committed to working with patients and providers to better integrate pain management into our health care system. But we simply do not need easily-abused long-acting oxycodone drugs to achieve better care.

Ontario is working with physicians and pharmacists regarding appropriate prescribing and dispending practices to ensure the safety of Ontarians. This will also be supported by our narcotics monitoring system that tracks all prescription narcotics and other controlled substance medications dispensed in Ontario.

I will continue to explore opportunities to minimize the impact of this Health Canada decision. However, I am seeking your support in asking that Health Canada reconsider their decision, as this remains the single most effective way to prevent the devastating impact that this drug can have on our respective jurisdictions.

I would like to thank you for your attention to this important matter, and look forward to working with you to ensure that we are putting the health and safety of all Canadians first.

Sincerely,

Originally signed by

Deb Matthews
Minister

c. The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, Canada

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