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Dec-12-2010 14:21printcomments

OxyContin Addiction in Ontario Canada, as in Many Other Places, is Increasing

"If you don't like the way the world is you change it. You have an obligation to change it. You just do it one step at a time" - Marian Wright Edelman

Oxycontin cry for help
Photo:L comparerehab.co.uk

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - Nearly five hundred deaths in five years have been attributed to OxyContin addiction in Ontario, reported the Toronto Star. In 2009 OxyContin addiction in Ontario increased because prescribing doctors had no online access to what other OxyContin prescriptions had been made out for a person and prescriptions were easily forged. At the time, the Toronto Star report encouraged authorities to launch a probe into OxyContin addiction in Ontario.

Marianne Skolek

According to reports by the Toronto Star in 2009, over $54 million worth of the drug was prescribed in the previous year and it was supplied mainly to people in receipt of social security allowances.

On November 22, 2010 the Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy in Washington, DC, R. Gil Kerlikowske spoke at the Canadian Center on Substance Abuse in Ottawa, Canada.

Kerlikowske spoke of one of his first actions in taking his new assignment was to call an end to the "War on Drugs" rhetoric and approach. The problem could not be treated as a "bumper-sticker philosophy."

After meeting with drug counselors, addiction specialists, teachers, physicians and young people, the 2010 National Drug Control Strategy was initiated. This strategy provided a comprehensive and balanced plan to reduce illicit drug use and its harmful consequences -- through prevention, early intervention -- as well as support for individuals in recovery from addiction. The approach was guided by evidence and backed by science and research.

In discussing drug policy, Kerlikowske referred to the U.S. being criticized for not devoting enough attention to the world outside of its own borders. At home, he addressed responsibility to reduce drug use and its consequences directly, by emphasizing treatment and prevention. This starts with prevention. Research shows that well-designed prevention programs help protect our youth from a variety of risky behavior -- including drug use. Keeping them from ever starting is the most effective way to reduce demand for drugs.

Kerlikowske emphasized the best prevention programs can help deter young people from using drugs. When prevention falls short, the next priority must be Early Intervention. When the goal is to contain a crisis, responding at the first sign of trouble is essential.

He went on to explain that the U.S. is working to address a stubborn fact, that significant barriers to treatment remain for people behind bars or otherwise involved in the criminal justice system. The failure to address the addiction of those under criminal justice supervision has severe consequences for society, the offender, and for taxpayers. The "strategy" to significantly reduce drug use and its consequences also emphasizes the importance of breaking the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration. The last 20 years have seen huge strides in expanding proven alternatives to incarceration for the addicted population.

The second initiative undertaken by Kerlikowske is to address the fastest-growing drug problem in the U.S. -- Prescription Drug Abuse. Drug-induced deaths are now the second-leading cause of injury death in the U.S., behind auto accidents.

This trend is largely driven by prescription drug abuse, and Kerlikowske indicated the U.S. is working to do more to educate physicians and patients about appropriate use and prescribing of pain medications.

As a result of the plague of OxyContin related deaths in Canada, an attorney by the name of Ray Wagner in Nova Scotia founder of "Wagners - a Serious Injury Law Firm" filed a proposed common law class proceeding in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on behalf of all persons affected by the use of OxyContin and on December 5, 2007, an Amended Statement of Claim was filed in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia which substantially modifies the original Statement of Claim.

In cooperation with law firms in each of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, Wagners commenced an innovative class action against the narcotic's manufacturer Purdue Pharma. The proposed class action is for the benefit of any person in Canada who claims personal injury and/or damages as a result of being prescribed OxyContin.

The proposed class action suit alleges that the narcotic maker is guilty of deceit in the marketing of the painkiller OxyContin and claims a monetary remedy on behalf of residents of Canada who were legally prescribed the drug, including those who developed dependency or addiction issues. The class action has been launched in Halifax in alliance with law firms representing provincial subclasses in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The nature and scope of of Purdue Pharma's deceit in the marketing of OxyContin became publicly known only in May 2007, when the company and three of its current and former executives - Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim, MD pleaded guilty in Federal Court in Virginia to criminal charges that it had misled doctors and patients when it claimed the drug was less likely to be addictive or abused than traditional narcotics. Before the guilty plea agreement with U.S. Attorney John Brownlee, Purdue Pharma had successfully covered up its misdeeds and obtained dismissal of over a thousand OxyContin related lawsuits in the United States.

Purdue Pharma claimed that OxyContin, because of its time-release formulation, posed a lower threat of abuse and addiction to patients than other, faster-acting painkillers like Percocet or Vicodin. An aggressive and misleading marketing campaign pushed sales of OxyContin to over $1 billion per year. The drug manufacturer heavily promoted OxyContin to doctors like general practitioners, who sometimes were under-trained and under-resourced in treating serious pain or in diagnosing drug abuse. By 2000, soaring rates of addiction and crime related to the use of OxyContin became obvious in parts of the United States, particularly in rural areas.

In 2007, I began offering assistance to Ray Wagner in connecting his law firm to individuals in government enforcement agencies in the U.S. as well as providing him with insight into Purdue Pharma's continued dishonest marketing of OxyContin.

A reformulation of OxyContin was introduced by its maker, Purdue Pharma this year. The FDA issued a statement saying -- "The new formulation may be an improvement that may result in less risk of overdose due to tampering, and will likely result in less abuse by snorting or injection; but it still can be abused or misused by simply ingesting larger doses than are recommended." In September, an FDA advisory panel voted to recommend that the agency approve the new OxyContin although several panel members said they did so only because voting it down would keep the current easy-to-tamper-with OxyContin on the market.

Purdue Pharma has said it would stop making the current version of OxyContin and replace all doses with the reformulated version. The company has also said it wouldn't market the drug as more resistant to tampering than the current product.

There are reports that the reformulated OxyContin is not finding its way into Canada in spite of the addiction, death and abuse figures.  Also, OxyContin addiction, death and abuse in Ontario is rampant because the drug is available on the Internet -- no prescription necessary.  Could it be that there is no "goose that laid the golden egg" in profits for Purdue Pharma if the reformulated OxyContin is sent to Canada?  Anyone at the FDA -- or a Canadian agency -- care to clear this up for me? 

Since the U.S. is not alone in fighting an OxyContin epidemic of addiction, death and abuse -- and our neighbor, Canada is also at war with this enemy -- it might serve both countries well to join forces in this war and follow the courage of the Canada goose by applying the below strategy when dealing with this plague.

Whenever a Canada goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back and another goose flies point. These geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Finally, when a goose gets sick, or is wounded by gunshot, and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until he is either able to fly or until he is dead, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation until they catch up with their group.


Canadian Center on Substance Abuse

What is the solution for oxycontin addiction in Ontario?

Eagles Nest Rehab Center Inc.

Oxycontin (Pain Medication) Class Action

Salem-News.com Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's who pled guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 7-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.

Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.

You can send Marianne an email at: mskolek@aol.com

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