Sudbury's police chief says he's concerned more OxyContin pills could soon show up on Sudbury's streets.

The federal health minister announced that she will not block the approval of generic versions of the effective — but addictive — painkiller.


Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner (CBC)

The patent is set to expire on the drug and several companies have expressed an interest in making generic versions.

"We're hoping that we don't see the same spike as we did before," Chief Frank Elsner said.

"We are going to try to be as prepared as we can. The number of violent occurrences that occurred — because of people trying to get their hands on Oxys the last time around — was something that really had us concerned."

The original maker of OxyContin pulled the drug last year and replaced it with a new formula that is supposed to be harder to abuse.

'If it stops people from dying, the better it is'

But the co-ordinator of the needle exchange program in Sudbury said the drug that replaced Oxycontin — called OxyNeo — is still being abused and has been dangerous for addicts.

"It's not about the drugs, it's about the addiction," Len Frappier said, adding the federal government is smart not to block the approval of generic forms of OxyContin.


The co-ordinator for Sudbury's needle exchange, Len Frappier, says the federal government is smart not to block the approval of generic forms of OxyContin. (CBC)

"They'll always find a way to break down … new drugs, as they did with [OxyNeo]

. But again, some people don't do it properly so more people are dying. So if it stops people from dying, the better it is for us."

While it won't block the approval of generic OxyContin the federal government has adopted new licensing regulations to keep an eye on potential abuse.

However, leaders in several provinces and territories want the generic versions to be delayed or blocked because of addiction concerns.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation grand chief Alvin Fiddler said if generic, less expensive OxyContin becomes available, it will harm remote first nations already combating an addiction epidemic.

Fiddler said he wants the minister to delay the decision until more research is done on the potential social impacts of making generic OxyContin available.