Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Prescription pills containing oxycodone and acetaminophen are shown in this June 20, 2012 photo.

Graeme Roy/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Ontario is rallying other provinces and territories to put pressure on Ottawa to reconsider its decision not to ban generic forms of OxyContin, a highly addictive and much-abused painkiller.

Provincial Health Minister Deb Matthews said she plans to bring in regulations that would limit access to the drug in Ontario unless it's tamper-resistant.

Under the proposed regulations, long-acting oxycodone products won't be considered for public funding or be substituted for the brand-name drug by pharmacists unless they meet certain criteria.

Story continues below advertisement

The draft rules would also give the ministry the authority not to pay a dispensing doctor or pharmacy operator who doesn't comply with legislation aimed at tracking potential misuse and diversion of prescription narcotics.

Ms. Matthews said the regulations, which have been posted for public feedback, would be retroactive, taking effect as of Friday.

OxyContin was meant to manage pain with a formula that released one dose of oxycodone over many hours. However, abusers could circumvent the timed-release feature by crushing the pills.

Ms. Matthews urged all the provinces and territories Friday to band together and convince Health Canada to reverse its decision and block generic forms of the opioid painkiller.

"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," Ms. Matthews wrote to her counterparts. "But we simply do not need easily abused long-acting oxycodone drugs to achieve better care."

The move comes just a few days after federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq refused to interfere in the drug approval process to block generic forms of the drug, saying federal laws don't allow regulators to ban a drug simply because some people abuse it.

Provincial health ministers had unanimously requested that she at least delay approval until regulators can examine how oxycodone is abused. Ontario had repeatedly demanded that the drug be banned completely.

Story continues below advertisement

Ms. Aglukkaq's refusal to intervene opens the door for generic oxycodone to win approval in Canada after the patent for the brand-name OxyContin expires on Nov. 25. The manufacturer is now marketing OxyNeo as a replacement that is more difficult to tamper with.

Ms. Aglukkaq said in a statement that the regulations proposed by Ms. Matthews should also be applicable to OxyNeo.

"Considering there is no proof to date that OxyNeo is actually tamper-resistant, I assume her regulations will apply equally to OxyNeo as well," Ms. Aglukkaq said.

"Otherwise, she would appear to be playing favourites to one drug company, which I'm sure is an impression that she would not want to give."

Since Ms. Aglukkaq's announcement, doctors, pharmacists, first-nation leaders and police chiefs have expressed deep concerns about the decision, Ms. Matthews wrote in the letter, a copy of which was also sent to Ms. Aglukkaq.

"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," she wrote.

Story continues below advertisement

Ontario has the highest rate of prescription narcotic abuse in the country — two to four times higher than any other province, according to Ms. Matthews.

It has devastated many first nations communities, including one small northern reserve where 85 per cent of residents are addicted to opioids.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies