Labelled an effort to fight the growing issue of opioid addiction here within the province of Ontario, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has announced that the provincial drug formulary (ODB) will no longer be covering high-dose long-acting opioids over 200mg MED (Morphine Equivalent Dose) as of January 2017.
As of January 2017, Ontario's Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will cease coverage on any opioid medication that is the equivalent of 200mg of Morphine or higher. The Ontario Drug Benefit program 'provides drug coverage for those in Ontario who are on social assistance (OW, ODSP), over age 65, reside in long-term care homes or qualify based on drug cost versus income'.
The following medications will no longer be eligible for coverage under ODB:
The notice also specifies that none of these medications will be considered through EAP (Exceptional Access Program) or Compassionate Review Policy (CRP).
The Ministry states that this move is part of their commitment to "reduce the risk of addiction and death resulting from the abuse, misuse, and diversion of these products." While the hope may be that this policy change will help curb the growing issue of opioid addiction and death from overdose, in reality, this may not end up being the result. Not only is this policy change unfair and potentially harmful to legitimate pain patients requiring high doses of opioids, it also creates a potential for harm to both those prescribed the drug, and those who use it without a prescription.
This leaves prescribed patients without sufficient pain relief, and potentially creates an opening for the patient to seek out relief elsewhere. Elsewhere, in case you were wondering, is the street. Those using prescription opioids recreationally, or to maintain an addiction, will also have to find a different form of opioid. Considering the highly potent drugs circulating on the streets across Canada today, this creates a dangerous and potentially deadly situation.
MPP France Gélinas (NDP) noted that delisting these opioid medications isn't as clear cut as it seems. "Once you're addicted, you will find a way to get it. For people on low incomes, we have multiplied the problem ten-fold."
This policy change is yet again effectively removing several safer pharmaceutical options from both patients and users. We've seen this all before, in case you've forgotten. Has our government learned absolutely nothing from the fiasco of OxyNeo replacing OxyContin? It's as though the events, overdoses and deaths that have occurred over the past 5 years have been completely overlooked. With the removal of pharmaceutical options, Canada has been flooded with increasingly potent opioids and research chemicals in attempts to continue to meet the demand for opioids and evade the eye of law enforcement. Powders and pills purchased on the street have no quality control or consistency throughout, are not labelled by their true dosage, and there is no easy way of knowing what active ingredients are in the mix. Doesn't that seem a hell of a lot more dangerous?
It is patients and users who will suffer from this policy change, not addiction and overdose rates. Instead of removing safer options, the province of Ontario needs to immediately and whole-heartedly embrace harm reduction initiatives to truly make a difference in addiction and overdose rates.
- UPDATE FROM K. -
First, I want to say thank you all so very much for your support over these past couple years on my blogging adventure. Writing this Blog been amazingly therapeutic for me, and I hope my readers are able to find something positive out of this as well. It's the time of year again that Domain & Hosting fees are due, and I'm unable to cover it myself. If you'd like to see "Studio L" up and running for another year, and are able to spare a small donation, I would greatly appreciate it!
You can use the PayPal donation button on the right-hand blog side-bar, or click here.
By K. Lanktree
- Freelance Writer -
- Blog Mistress -
- Former IV Drug User -
- Methadone Patient -
- Lover of all things Harm Reduction -
Help keep 'Studio L' online by donating to help offset the costs! Thanks💋