Ontario rips federal decision to allow generic OxyContin

OxyContin and OxyNEO. (File Photo)

OxyContin and OxyNEO. (File Photo)

Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

, Last Updated: 6:50 PM ET

TORONTO - Ontario has blasted the federal government’s decision not to interfere in the approvals process for a generic form of the addictive painkiller OxyContin.

Health Minister Deb Matthews wrote to her federal counterpart, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, in July asking that she ban the generic form of the drug’s entry into Canada.

“I am profoundly disappointed in Minister Aglukkaq’s decision to ignore the threat to public safety posed by generic OxyContin and to allow it to enter the Canadian market,” Matthews said in a statement issued Monday.

“National problems require a national solution. Provincial and territorial health ministers unanimously asked for federal help, but have once again been told that it’s a provincial problem.”

Ontario has the highest use of OxyContin in the country, and between 1991 and 2009, the number of prescriptions for the drug rose by 900%.

The brand name manufacturer said it has come out with a new formula that it argues is harder for addicts to inject.

“The prospect of making a cheaper formulation more widely available is a matter of grave concern, threatening the safety of individuals and the population at large,” Matthews said.

“Prescription OxyContin has wreaked havoc on too many Ontario families. It is associated with a five-fold increase in oxycodone-related deaths and a 41% increase in overall opioid-related deaths.”

The minister says the social costs of allowing generic OxyContin have been estimated at $500 million.


Photos