Net societal economic impact in Canada from withholding regulatory approval for generic OxyContin.


Author: Dr. Brett J Skinner, Ph.D.

Non-medical abuse of OxyContin is significant. The Canadian patent for OxyContin is set to expire in November 2012. The manufacturer stopped selling the drug before patent expiry, replacing it with a recently approved abuse-deterrent formulation called OxyNEO. Other drug companies are now seeking Health Canada’s approval to sell generic versions of OxyContin once the patent expires.

Ontario’s Minister of Health wrote to the Federal Health Minister requesting that generic OxyContin not be approved for sale, stating “Ontario believes that the costs to society of the reintroduction of the more-easily abused version far outweigh the financial benefits that would accrue from the reduced price”.

This study examines whether the Ontario Health Minister’s assertion is supported by the evidence.

The analysis suggests that generic versions of OxyContin would exacerbate social costs from non-medical abuse that could be avoided by substitution of the new abuse-deterrent formulation OxyNEO. The avoidable societal costs likely exceed expected generic price savings. Much of the societal costs associated with generic negative externalities would be paid for directly or indirectly by governments.