The provincial government’s decision to not include OxyNEO on P.E.I.’s Pharmacare program came after a recommendation from an expert committee for the Atlantic Common Drug Review.
© Ryan Quigley/Journal Pioneer
Effective March 1, the new drug made by pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma was to replace their previous product OxyContin, a painkiller, after scrutiny showed OxyContin was being abused. Purdue has touted the new OxyNEO as being harder to manipulate into a form that could be snorted or injected.
The P.E.I. Pharmacare program gives assistance to Islanders to help buy pharmaceuticals that fall under the provincial formulary.
The committee found there was no evidence the drug was less addictive or harder to abuse than OxyContin, said the pharmacy consultant with the Department of Health and Wellness for P.E.I., Roy Cairns.
“What the study showed was that with a commonly accessible apparatus, like a coffee grinder, the new form OxyNEO could be abused so there was no real advantage to that product over OxyContin.”
The committee recommended the drug be reviewed for its place in pain therapy before the Province helps people purchase it through the Pharmacare plan. The committee hopes to have the review finished by November.
“Even looking at what types of pain these drugs should and could treat is something they’ll be looking at. I’m not saying Oxycodone (OxyContin and OxyNEO) is the most abused medication. They’re all addictive. They (opioids) all have their issues and they have been looked at over the years as to where their place in therapy should be.”
“We have alternatives in the same class and are closely related to this drug that will provide similar pain relief to give these expert committees a chance to look at this particular drug,” he added.
Those with current subscriptions for Oxycontin will be the only ones allowed to be given OxyNEO under the Pharmacare program for P.E.I.
“Oxycontin and OxyNEO are not interchangeable so the doctor would have to write a prescription (for current users). That would be the doctor’s choice but from the drug program perspective, we would cover the drug no problem for those patients that are already receiving (oxycontin).”
Last year, only 34 Islanders were given assistance to purchase OxyContin through the Pharmacare program with a total of 394 prescriptions, said Cairns.
“In our province for long-acting pain relief, we cover Morphine as an open benefit. The other long-acting forms of opioids require a special authorization, which means a doctor has to fill out a form and send it in to show the patient meets the requirement to get that drug.”
Though the new OxyNEO drug will be inaccessible for those under the provincial drug program, it will still be able to be purchased with a third party health insurance company or with cash if a prescription is given.