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Law Enforcement Alerted to Possible Influx of Painkillers From Canada

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The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has alerted U.S. law enforcement to prepare for a potential influx of painkillers from Canada, which has given approval to six generic drug companies to manufacture oxycodone products.

The Wall Street Journal reports R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of National Drug Control Policy, called Canada’s health minister last week to talk about the issue. He offered assistance in fighting prescription drug abuse, a major concern in both the United States and Canada.

ONDCP sent an alert to law enforcement agencies, warning them to look for inexpensive oxycodone products. The drugs could hit the market as early as next month, the alert notes. “The potential exists for diversion into the United States because the old formulations, which are easier to abuse, are unavailable in the United States,” the alert stated.

The United States will face a similar decision about whether to approve generic versions of powerful painkillers. A U.S. patent on the original formulation of OxyContin will expire next April, the article notes. Generic versions of the painkiller Opana will become more widely available on January 1, unless the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes action.

“We’ve got a big problem coming up here,” April Rovero, President of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, told the newspaper. “It’s horrifying to think of what’s going to befall us when these drugs hit the market.”

U.S. Representative Harold Rogers of Kentucky met with FDA officials last week to urge them not to allow generic versions of OxyContin and Opana. “I am frustrated beyond belief,” he said. “If we don’t address these issues before January 1, we are going to face a fresh wave of deaths, which is totally avoidable.”

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