(NaturalNews) Beginning March 1, 2012, the controversial painkiller drug OxyContin (oxycodone) will no longer be available for prescription in Canada. Numerous media sources report that Health Canada has officially nixed the drug, which is an opioid-based drug similar to heroin, because of widespread abuse, particularly among Canada's First Nations, which are aboriginal nations in Canada similar to Native American reservations in the U.S.
Since traditional OxyContin pills, which are easily crushable and abused by drug addicts, were first introduced in Canada in 2000, painkiller-related deaths spiked a whopping 41 percent according to MinnPost (http://www.minnpost.com). And in some First Nation areas of Canada, as many as 50 percent of local residents are now addicted to the drug, an escalating epidemic that prompted the idea of a ban in the first place (http://www.thefix.com/content/mass-withdrawal-oxycontin-canada9783).
But with the ban comes concerns that massive withdrawals will occur as addicts will no longer have access to this drug of choice. And some say that those hit hardest by such withdrawals will have limited or no access to appropriate treatment centers, which will lead them to seek out alternatives like heroin on the black market.
For legitimate users of OxyContin who take it for pain under prescription, Purdue Pharma Canada, the drug company that had been producing OxyContin, says it will now sell "OxyNEO" in its place. OxyNEO is reportedly much harder to crush or liquefy, which means abusers will allegedly not have much success trying to abuse it as part of their drug habit. But others say there is no evidence that the drug's reinvention will reduce abuse rates.
"There is currently no evidence available to determine that these (new) formulations lead to a reduction of prescription opioid abuse and abuse-related harm," said Stephane Shank, a spokesman from Health Canada, to the Toronto Sun in a recent statement (http://www.torontosun.com).
Just like with OxyContin, Health Canada will reportedly not cover OxyNEO as part of its Non-Insured Health Benefits Program, which means legitimate users living in First Nation regions will have to pay for it themselves.
Besides its widespread abuse by drug addicts and the various societal and health problems this causes, OxyContin is responsible for killing more people than illegal drugs do. A 2008 report compiled by the Florida Medical Examiners Commission found that prescription drugs are responsible for causing three times as many deaths as illegal drugs do -- and the bulk of these prescription drug-related deaths are caused by painkillers like OxyContin (http://www.naturalnews.com/024765_drug_drugs_DEA.html).