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Oxy Is Pulled in Canada

The OxyContin ban could spark mass withdrawals, and cause many First Nations addicts to seek replacements, like heroin.

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Oxy will be much harder to come by in
northern Canada. Photo via

By Fionna Agomuoh

02/17/12

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The highly addictive painkiller OxyContin will soon be pulled from pharmacy shelves across Canada. Health professionals anticipate extremely dangerous mass withdrawals in communities in the northern First Nations reserves. In the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) an estimated 50% of residents are addicted to the drug; NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy says that figure hits 70-80% in some communities. Users are as young as nine and as old as 65. Last month, the Cat Lake First Nation declared a state of emergency due to mass painkiller addiction there. OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma has plans to introduce a new form of the drug, called OxyNeo, that's supposed to be harder to crush, making it harder to abuse by snorting or injecting—methods addicts use to achieve a quicker high. But Health Canada has still decided not to cover the new drug under insurance programs, having already pulled OxyContin from its Non-Insured Health Benefits Program. With restricted access to Oxy and limited treatment programs, it's feared that the addicted people of NAN will turn to other dangerous drugs, such as heroin, and that the epidemic there will worsen instead of being resolved.

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