The Ontario government has placed restrictions on the distribution of drugs containing oxycodone, the painkiller used in Oxycontin and its replacement, Oxyneo.
Effective February 29, 2012, all new prescriptions containing oxycodone will have to be first approved through the Ontario Exceptional Access Program. That program requires physicians to provide a compelling reason for prescribing the medication before patients may receive the drug.
Under the new monitoring regime, all Oxycontin prescriptions will be grandfathered until April 2, 2012. After that, patients will be able to receive Oxyneo for one year. After that time, doctors will be required to prove that they tried alternative treatments to the two drugs before the medications may be dispensed.
Oxycontin is the fastest growing cause of addiction in Canada. Meanwhile, Ontario has the highest rate of addiction to the drug in the country. Remote communities and First Nations’ reserves have been hit particularly hard by Oxycontin addiction.
Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of Oxycontin, is voluntarily withdrawing the drug from the market and replacing it with Oxyneo, a less powerful medication that is less able to be crushed, snorted or injected.