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Int J Risk Saf Med. 2011;23(4):233-40. doi: 10.3233/JRS-2011-0539.

The danger of imperfect regulation: OxyContin use in the United States and Canada.

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  • 1School of Health Policy and Management, York University and Emergency Physician, University Health Network, Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario.


Drug companies aggressively market their products to increase sales and economic rewards. Different countries have different regulatory regimes for controlling promotion. In the United States control rests directly with the Food and Drug Administration whereas Canada relies on a mixture of voluntary self-regulation and an autonomous agency. Each method has significant weaknesses. We examine these weaknesses by analyzing the promotion of OxyContin (the time release version of the opioid oxycodone) by Purdue in Canada and the United States. We then look at the association between promotion and the misuse and abuse of OxyContin in both countries. Finally, we advance specific recommendations for regulating promotion for drugs that may have a high abuse potential.

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