By Dylan R
As of Feb 28, the infamous pain medication, Oxycontin, is no longer manufactured in Canada.
Replacing it is a new form of the drug called OxyNeo, which drug maker Pardue Pharma says is harder to abuse.
Pardue Pharma’s patent on Oxycontin has also expired.
The new form of the medication is currently available. However, doctors are not able to prescribe the drug.
Instead, they will be able to make a special application for patients to get OxyNeo, with the exception of those being treated for cancer or receiving palliative care. Those patients will be eligible to receive the drug without a special application.
Regardless of the brand shake-up, some Calgary doctors will have nothing to do with the drug.
Dr. Karen Mitchell says she does not prescribe narcotics such as Oxycontin and OxyNeo to her patients, as the drug is not needed in the vast majority of cases.
“When interviewing for new patients, I make it clear right then that I do not prescribe narcotics,” says Mitchell. “I’ve lost patients who do not agree with me, and I’ve had patients get angry with me.”
Working in a family practice, which also doubles as a walk-in clinic, Mitchell says not a day goes by where a patient doesn’t come in looking for pain medication, and leaves disappointed when they don’t get what they want.
“It (Oxycontin) is a strong, powerful, highly addictive drug that finds its way into the wrong hands far too often. Leftovers get misplaced or simply forgotten about, or even sold.”
Patients with existing prescriptions for Oxycontin will be able to fill them for the next month, according to Calgary Pharmacist, Scott Macala, who says Oxycontin will be stocked at his southwest Calgary pharmacy until the end of March, at which point his pharmacy will get rid of its remaining inventory.
“March is a transition period,” says Macala. “But obviously we don’t want see line-ups.”
Speculation that there might be an increase in pharmacy robberies has arisen as abusers of Oxycontin see their supplies diminish, and Calgary Police say they will be watching the situation over the next few weeks.
Purdue Pharma claims the new version of the drug is harder to abuse because it is encased in a shell that can’t be crushed, as Oxycontin is often snorted. In addition, the new form turns to gel when it is exposed to water, making it harder to inject.
But that is little comfort to patients who have no interest in abusing the drug.
Janet Patterson, 60, says her doctor has been prescribing Oxycontin for over a decade, and that it’s the only drug that works for her when her “back goes,” which it often does, due to a slipped disk.