OxyContin in Canada

There is a killer in Canada that is taking more lives than heroin, but is sold with a brand name by a corporate entity. The drug is Oxycodone, and is better known by the name OxyContin.

In Canada and around the world, addiction to OxyContin is being blamed for the deaths of an increasing number of users – and the number is growing.  The cause of this misuse and abuse could be attributed directly to the marketing and sales of the drug by its maker.

Canada’s “Hidden Drug Problem”

According to a study published by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, after OxyContin was introduced to the public drug plan in Canada, death by opiate overdose increased by five-fold in Ontario.  This is unfortunately similar to the OxyContin problem shared in the United States over the past few years.

In Canada, death resulting from abuse of prescription pain medication has almost doubled in the past 13 years.  In regards to OxyContin, specifically the 40 mg dosage, it is one of the drugs responsible for a 40% increase in opioid-related overdose deaths since the last decade.  It is a growing problem that does not receive enough attention in Canada.  These opioid prescription pain medications account for more deaths in Ontario than do heroin overdoses.

In this case, the company selling the drug could share in the blame.  The abuse of OxyContin and deaths related to its misuse could be attributed to the way Purdue Pharma Canada marketed the drug to doctors and the public.

Profits over Public Safety?

Purdue Pharma is the company that produces and sells OxyContin.  They initially portrayed it to doctors as a safer drug that carried less risk of addiction.  This has proven to be severely false.  One such marketing product given away by Purdue Pharma, a pen, had a pull-out on the side that compares doses of 20-30 mg of OxyContin with Tylenol with Codeine 30 mg.  However, OxyContin is a much more dangerous drug than Tylenol with Codeine and carries much greater risks. Eventually, the FDA forced discontinuation of the pen as a marketing tool.

There has been considerable blame placed on the company and its misleading of the public regarding the drug and its addictiveness.  Purdue Pharma has received a letter from former Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher calling for them to stop their “aggressive marketing practices” and a statement from Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal urging it to take action regarding abuse of OxyContin.  Purdue Pharma has also had legal matters stemming from misleading the public regarding the addictive nature of OxyContin.  Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty in 2007 to charges of misleading the public about OxyContin’s risk of addiction and agreed to pay $600 million.  Those involved with the company, such as the president and top lawyer pleaded guilty as individuals to mis-branding charges.

OxyContin is Highly Addictive and Dangerous

Used appropriately, OxyContin can be effective in treating pain.  However, when used incorrectly and abused, the drug can be very addictive and the risk of OxyContin addiction dependency and OxyContin overdose is high. It has been labeled by many experts as legalized heroin.

– article by Khoi Nguyen

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