Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jump in narcotics prescribed dramatic

  • Print

THE number of prescriptions for potentially addictive painkillers like OxyContin skyrocketed after Manitoba Health agreed to pay for the drugs under Pharmacare.

A new study released Monday by the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy found prescriptions for narcotics like OxyContin and oxycodone, an opioid found in drugs like Percocet, jumped dramatically after they were added to the province's Pharmacare program in 1999.

Researchers analyzed prescription data between 1995 and 2005 and found the number of prescriptions for oxycodone increased five times over the 10-year period. Prescriptions for OxyContin, also known as "hillbilly heroin", increased 95 times.

Recently, front-line addiction workers have reported an alarming rise in the number of young people addicted to powerful opiates like OxyContin. The disturbing trend has devastated families and frustrated medical professionals who say the abuse is propagated by the illicit resale of prescription drugs.

Though researchers didn't analyze the reasons behind the sharp increase in opioid prescriptions, the study speculates that doctors are more willing to prescribe narcotics to treat and manage pain. The study notes that reports of abuse of certain opioids may also be a factor.

"We saw OxyContin and oxycodone increase quite rapidly," said Colette Raymond, one of the study's authors, who is also a clinical pharmacist with the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. "(The reason) is certainly an area for further study."

The use of medications like Tylenol 3 also increased after the powerful painkillers were included in Pharmacare.

Raymond said it's important to note that even after the increase, a very small number -- only .2 per cent of the province's population -- fill prescriptions for OxyContin.

The soaring use of the drug comes with dangers.

Deaths as a result of taking narcotic pain relievers have nearly doubled in 14 years, says an Ontario-based study released Monday. In particular, deaths from oxycodone rose fivefold between 1999 and 2004, immediately following the introduction of OxyContin in Ontario.

Most deaths occurred in individuals who were also taking sleeping pills or alcohol, said researchers involved in the study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 8, 2009 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Can Steeves or Bowman catch Wasylycia-Leis?

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS  070527 The 21st Annual Teddy Bears' Picnic at Assiniboine Park. The Orlan Ukrainian Dancers perform on stage.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new school-zone speed limit?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google