February 19, 2019  Last Update: November 27, 2017, 8:52 pm

OxyNEO for Oxycontin Creates State of Emergency

Since Health Canada only approved one brand of oxycodone (Oxycontin) for the National Health Service, the March 1 replacement of Oxycontin with abuse-proof OxyNEO is expected to create a crisis, with mass opiate withdrawal expected, especially among First Nations pain killer addicts.

Recent news releases about oxycodone in Canada have set off a firestorm of fear. Purdue Pharma Canada has announced that as of March 1, 2012 they will discontinue production and distribution of OxyContin, and replace it with a new abuse-deterring formulation called OxyNEO. Painkiller-addicted Canadians and leaders of the NAN First Nations  are predicting chaos.

On February 6, 2012 Matawa First Nations reported that almost 2000 people have an Opioid addiction in Matawa First Nation communities alone. On January 23, 2012, Chief Matthew Keewaykapow of Cat Lake First Nation declared a State-of-Emergency due to widespread opioid addiction reaching 70% of his community members, ranging in age as young as eleven years to over sixty years. With a total population of 25,000 in Sioux Lookout Zone alone, at least 9,000 community members will be impacted.– News release issued by the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (PDF) Deputy Grand Chief Mike Metatawabin

While there are over a dozen companies who manufacture oxycodone worldwide, the Canadian government Drug Benefits programs only covered OxyContin from Purdue Pharma Canada.  OxyNEO is made with oxycodone, but uses a gel based formulation designed to prevent snorting or injecting with a needle. On March 1, a whole lot of people will be shut off from their supplies of high-dosage oxycodone currently obtained by bypassing the time release controls in Oxycontin.

The loudest outcry has come from leadership of several First Nations bands. In a press release Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief:

"In the absence of any regular treatment, a public-health catastrophe is imminent. There are thousands of addicted individuals with rapidly shrinking supplies - likely leading to massive increases in black-market prices, use of other drugs, needle use and sharing and crime."
- Mike Metatawabin, Nishnawbe Aski Nation

The First Nations have been asking for help with their addiction problems for years. They declared a state of emergency before, back in 2009. The Health Canada’s National Anti-Drug Strategy seemed to offer some hope for First Nations,  with $100 million allocated over the next five years to implement a “Treatment Action Plan” which included plans to “enhance treatment and support for First Nations and Inuit.” According to the First Nations leadership, nothing has been done to date.

Meanwhile, as can be expected, the general drug abusing public have remained pretty quiet. They know that there are other sources of Oxycodone in Canada. With the shift to abuse-proof OxyNEO, cross border trafficking of illegal but more accessible oxycodone can be expected to increase, along with the street price of the drug. The RCMP is gearing up to deal with that.

What will be done for the thousands of addicts on the First Nations reserves is still unknown. According to reports, most addicts are expected to switch to other substances, and crime will increase as supplies of OxyContin run out.

Additional :

Health Canada and the Ontario Health Ministry said they are removing OxyContin from their Drug Benefit formularies as of Feb. 29. Its replacement, OxyNeo, will only be funded through each agency’s Exceptional Access Programs. This change will mean the prescription of the drug will fall under much tighter controls.

In the provinces:

  • Prince Edward Island already had special criteria for OxyContin prescriptions and has no plans to pay for new OxyNEO prescriptions.
  • Manitoba only pays for OxyContin in exceptional circumstances and, along with British Columbia, has yet to make a decision on whether to pay for the drug’s replacement.
  • Saskatchewan will make a decision on paying for the new drug as early as next week.
  • Alberta has announced they are not going to follow the Ontario’s Health Ministry’s lead.



  1. mykal giesbrecht says:

    What about people like me that have already done the methadone and residential treatment for 1 year I still have chronic pain I was run over twice I have been taking 4-80 3-40 5-20 mg SR oxycontin for the past 4 years The Oxyneo has BHT that makes me sick and worse throw up Which for me is 3 x as bad because I am Bipolar and all the medications I take to keep my impulses under control is being thrown up too I haven’t heard voices or been depressed for a long time Now I am struggling to remain patient until a solution is found However I feel I am being railroaded and labelled a junkie addict because of all this Doctors are becoming even more pretentious then they were to begin with This new taper proof pill isn’t at all unbeatable as long as you know basic Chem. It really suck that now it seem my choices are to turn to other narcotics The Doctor doesn’t seem to believe me when I tell him it makes me sick I ask to get switched and that is seen as drug seeking behaviour I asked my Pharmacist this day if he would take some thing that has made him so sick and striped him of his dignity I have no choice at the moment other then not to throw up in the toilet so I can recover the slimy pill(s ) and force myself to retake it or I will not only get really much more sick and the pain is driving me to become hopeless and desperate I don’t cope with depression very well as I am Bipolar Lately I think of finding ways to simply end all of it If I could only work up the courage to drink my h Potassium with juice and take all the pills that I haven’t been able too Then I wouldn’t be such a burden to every one around me If you have any constructive ideas please contact me

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