Six drug companies to produce generic OxyContin despite health concerns

- November 26th, 2012

Six major drug companies can now roll out knockoff versions of OxyContin despite warnings from doctors, pharmacists, police chiefs and provincial health officials.

Sandoz Inc., PhamaScience Inc., Teva Canada Ltd., Cobalt Pharmaceuticals, Apotex Inc., Laboratoire Riva Inc. can now market generic forms of the popular painkiller, known on the streets as “hillbilly heroine.”

The approvals flow from a Health Canada review of applications from drug companies wanting to produce the opioid medication, first marketed by Purdue Pharma.

Purdue’s patent on the addictive medication expired Sunday. The company pulled OxyContin from the market in March in favour of a new drug, OxyNEO.

Ontario Health Minister Deb Matthews reiterated calls to provincial and territorial health ministers on Friday to urge the feds to intervene in the Health Canada process.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said politicians should stay out of scientific reviews.

Aglukkaq said Canada’s prescription pill abuse problem is fuelled by doctors over-prescribing drugs like OxyContin, and added that provincial, territorial and federal officials need to “sit down” to carve out a broad strategy to combat the problem.

She also said it is “hypothetical” to question the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and frontline health-care workers.

Doctors prescribe opioid pain pills such as OxyContin 55 times more often than others, according to a study released in 2011 by St. Michael’s Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

The US arm of Purdue paid $634.5 million in fines after pleading guilty to misleading the public about the risk of addiction. Purdue maintains the Canadian arm operates independently.

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8 comments

  1. linda hamilton says:

    i believe some people needs this drug as i did but i got off of them with the help of a wonderful doctor and a miracle pill called suboxone.with this pill you don’t go thru withdrawals and makes the process of getting off oxy a better one.with one celebrex a day and Tylenol for arthritis helps to manage some pain.for some people though their pain is extreme and need something stronger and it might as well be a generic oxy than another kind that you can find on the street anyways.instead of the government whining about who makes them make the doctors responsible to whom they prescribe them too and to make sure they screen their patient before they prescribe it to them.

  2. Plukin says:

    This is a message to all doctors, pharmacists and police chiefs making easy money $100 000 plus a year, I am suffering from severe back and using Oxycontin keeps me working and paying TAXES so you can enjoy your jobs.

  3. Dan says:

    Denying a patient a drug that is beneficial solely on the basis that it has potential for abuse would be like taking cough syrup off the market because it to can be abused. I feel terrible for those legitimate patients who were forced to switch to oxyneo (a drug that is less effective, takes longer to metabolize, has more side effects and contains a polymer binder) simply because other people were abusing oxycontin.

  4. john says:

    What is most alarming is not that there is such widespread abuse of prescription opioids but that the measures taken to curtail that abuse have such a negative effect on the people who genuinely need them. People are not prescribed oxy for headaches or fibromyalgia, they are prescribed oxy when OTC rememdies are no longer effective. I suffered arthritis pain for 8 years before being switched to oxy: the net result, it gave me my life back. Pain is not a predictable or constant force however, there are months where I use more and months when I use less. Unfortunately, regardless of genuine medical need, the restrictions on prescribing mean that far too many people are in far too much pain. It makes me laugh to hear that doctors are overprescribing! The fact is doctors are terrified of prescribing these drugs and generally err on the side of caution. Illicit abuse is a subject seperate and distinct from legitimate use and the two should not be confused.

  5. James Currie MD says:

    Hi Plukin. Your tone is offensive. In your taxes you are paying for a service albeit indirectly, as the giovernment acts as a single payer. If the government were not involved, you would still be paying, except privately. Our system is cleary better than the private system in the US, which costs half as much again as ours, for worse results, and leaves 40 million people without coverage. All of the countries which have been acknowledged to have a successful system are based on a govenment paid basis with more, or less private, supplements.
    So, I’m sot sitting back comfortably, happy that you and others are paying my remuneration, as some kind of charity for which I shoud be grateful. I provide a service which deserves appropriate reward for training and effort as with any other employment. Sorry about your sore back, by the way. I do know how disabling that is, and genuinely sympathise.

  6. Richard says:

    Dr. Currie-he is obviously just frustrated that he needs the medication yet in our nanny state people are always trying to ban things based on the idiocy of the minority!

  7. Jim says:

    Seems more likely that Purdue pulled its product from the market as an attempt to extend their patent protection.

    If Oxycontin is so bad why did Purdue wait until 6 months before their patent expired before pulling it from the market?

    Rather convenient that Purdue had the patent on another formulation of Oxycontin.

    The new formulation appears to be less effective for some people (based upon reader comments). Purdue wouldn’t be making much money with their new formulation if generic formulations were available.

    Who is behind the provincial politicians pushing for this ban? Purdue perhaps.

  8. ian says:

    While the opiate drugs are a problem, for some people they are warranted. I would like my doctor to prescribe marinol for back pain and to help sleep at night, but he is afraid because it has non-addictive cannabinoids, go figure!

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