Aging/Gerontology, Healthcare, News

OxyContin in Canada

by Victoria Brewster, MSW

OxyContin seems to be the medication causing dilemmas here in Canada. The drug or medication has been authorized to be a generic and this has some people uncertain, scared, cautious.

OxyContin is a painkiller and painkillers are over-prescribed and easily accessible. This is a concern. Codeine, morphine and oxycodone are active ingredients in painkillers. They are addictive (some say), shared between family members, friends and cause a lot of concern.

We need to realize that these active ingredients are related to opioids, heroin, produce euphoria, can be fatal at large doses or if combined with alcohol or other sedative like medications/drugs.

Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot of younger people in society experiencing chronic pain or acute pain? Back pain, leg pain, muscle pain, strained muscles, arthritis, more diseases like cancer…not known as well years ago and not usually to such young people.

OxyContin was removed from the Canadian market earlier this year as the control-release mechanism could be worked around by crushing and chewing the medication and people got their quick fix. A new version OxyNEO was released. It is harder to crush or dissolve. Same active ingredient as OxyContin though.

A generic version of a medication/drug means it is less expense and drug insurance plans that would not cover the full cost of the name brand will often cover the full cost of a generic version or cost wise for those not covered by provincial drug plans is more affordable for those on a lower or strict budget.

Why are we so drawn to the ‘quick fix’ I do not know or fully understand. I work with older adults though and many describe horrible chronic pain that makes it difficult for them to be mobile, to go out of the house, to engage in meaningful activities.

Are there other choices? Perhaps complimentary therapies or Eastern medicine might work and be worth a try. Acupuncture, massage therapy, osteopathy, exercise, aqua fitness, walking, physiotherapy, etc. Some will try homeopathy or different versions of therapy like cognitive behavior therapy, visualization or even a placebo to feel better.

No one wants to be or live in chronic pain. Pain clinics that specialize in this could be a very good resource.

We must keep in mind that there is physical pain and mental pain as well. Mental pain is what is going on inside the head where physical pain is typically the rest of the body, unless one suffers from migraines, which can be debilitating both physically and mentally.

Different medications depending on the type of pain.

Physicians need to work together and I know this can be difficult as many have huge caseloads and not enough time in the day to do so. A case manager or care manager can be an important piece/role here to work out the logistics, arrange appointments, follow-up with patients to ease the burden. Nurses, social workers, home care workers, nurse practitioners should work for the good of the patient. Collaboration is key here along with communication.

The ultimate goal is the patient and their feeling better; to make the pain  manageable.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/11/19/canada-wont-block-generic-oxycontin-health-minister/

http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/OxyContin

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