THUNDER BAY – An Anishinabek Nation Regional Chief says the federal government should be blocking the creation of a cheaper generic version of OxyContin, a highly‐addictive pain medication. “Our people, communities and families are being destroyed by this drug,” says Northern Superior Regional Grand Chief Peter Collins. “The Government of Canada has a moral and fiduciary responsibility to not allow pharmaceutical companies to create more and cheaper alternatives.”
With the patent about to end on the prescription drug OxyContin, Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq had the opportunity to stop drug companies from developing a generic version of the highly‐ addictive drug. She says Ottawa will not intervene.
“The federal government had an opportunity to stop the production of a generic drug that has been proven to be dangerous and destructive,” says Chief Collins of Fort William First Nation. “That action must be taken.”
OxyContin, while a highly‐ effective option for treating severe pain, is an opiate‐based drug that has proven to be a significant problem in addiction and related criminal activity. The ease with which it can be tampered with to create a heroin‐type high and its over‐prescription have created a plague of OxyContin addiction across the United States and Canada, especially in First Nations.
First Nations have been vocal about the need for the federal government to work with them in battling the war on drugs, and cautiously applauded the March announcement by Health Canada that OxyContin sales were being halted. First Nations leaders asked for assistance in coping with the effects of withdrawal experienced by people living with addictions.
“Fighting the use of OxyContin is still an issue,” says Chief Collins. “Supplies are dwindling, but those with access or supply to the drug are still making it available. Introduction to the market of generic versions will only add to the problem.