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Oxycodone found to be more deadly than heroin


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Oxycodone found to be more deadly than heroin

February 10, 2009

Kevin Donovan

STAFF REPORTER

Overdose deaths in Ontario from a legal narcotic painkiller have overtaken deaths from the illegal drug heroin and are catching up to deaths by cocaine, provincial data show.

The prescription narcotic oxycodone was involved in 464 deaths in the five-year period between 2004 and 2008 and the numbers are trending upward. The Star was able to get a five-year period of death data for heroin (49 deaths) and cocaine (641 deaths), although the data available was for a slightly earlier time period, 2002-06.

The Star also found that in the 2002-06 period, there were 366 overdose deaths in Ontario blamed on methadone, a legal drug prescribed for people who are trying to get off an addiction to narcotics, such as oxycodone and heroin.

The data was released to the Star from the Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario and the Centre of Forensic Sciences.

Oxycodone is a narcotic drug that is to be used by people with extreme pain. It is most commonly available in prescription form as either OxyContin or Percocet. OxyContin is a popular painkiller that is intended for slow release over 12 hours.

But abusers of the drug crush the tablets and snort the heroin-like powder, or mix it with liquid for injection into the veins. When looking at the cause of death, investigators can conclude that oxycodone was involved, but are unable to determine the brand of the drug taken. Ontario's health ministry has launched a national review into the abuse of OxyContin and other forms of oxycodone following a Star investigation that showed high rates of prescription of the drug on Ontario's public drug program.

Meanwhile, families affected by OxyContin say they want the province to take a hard look at whether it is being properly prescribed.

The sister of a 28-year-old man who died last month said her brother was on and off oxycodone and other prescription narcotics, and was also taking methadone to treat his addiction. The brother, whose death is being probed by a coroner, received the drug both from prescriptions and a friend who received the drug from the Ontario Drug Benefit Program. "My brother did not have any kind of injuries that would necessitate the use of a highly addictive drug such as this. I am appalled," said his sister, who asked that her name not be used.

Toronto Star

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I think there might be an argument to be made that the prevalence of herion addiction and the use of oxycodone, judged by individual standards of morbidity rates (how deadly per user?) are at least similar in their "deadlyness".

The creation of the two drugs are totally different socio-cultural situations and aren't really compareable, imo it's apples and grapes. Recognizing the immediate cost in lives in the production of herion and the very different systemic violence of a health care system that encourages synthetics and the massive waste of the "drug industry", both opiods are really bad in recreational situations and both are excellent in clinical situations.

Hard question.

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No, I mean I think the author of the article used "artistic license". I mean, does anybody really believe that Oxy is more deadly than heroin?

My apologys - one too many coffees I guess.

It does seem a bit of a stretch that oxys are worse, but in a way I can understand the angle, simply because people are more then willing to pop a prescribed legal narcotic without much consideration, long before they would even think of using heroin.

At least thats how I'd percieve the "more deadly" concept.

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