The drug war is alive and well in Canada

1/17/2015, Star investigation: Canada’s invisible codeine problem

In Canada, codeine painkillers like Tylenol No. 1 are widely available without prescription. But do they work better than household painkillers like Tylenol or Advil?

I know the answer to that question, but I’m guessing my opinion isn’t the same as the writer of this article…

These millions of dollars and doses obscure a crucial problem: there is a startling lack of evidence that these drugs work better than household painkillers like Tylenol or Advil…

I suppose personal experience isn’t exactly “evidence,” but I find it hard to believe that my experiences would be that different from anyone else’s.  And my experience is that codeine is stronger than Tylenol or Advil, hands down, no question.

But it doesn’t take much to grow addicted; a U.K. parliamentary inquiry in 2009 found that low-dose codeine drugs can cause addiction after just three days…

This is why people don’t believe their governments anymore.

This question is especially pertinent in light of Canada’s growing opioid epidemic, which is costing the federal government millions to tackle. In Ontario, deaths linked to opioids like morphine, codeine and oxycodone have jumped 242 per cent in two decades…

Well, what do you know, America’s opioid “epidemic” has been exported to Canada.

Barnes said addicts hooked on stronger opioids often resort to non-prescription codeine when trying to stave off withdrawal symptoms. Low-dose codeine can also “unmask a fondness” for opioids, leading people to even stronger drugs, said Dr. David Juurlink , a toxicologist and drug safety researcher with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

“Unmask a fondness”?  Is this toxicologist talking about the brain and addiction or giving an anti-drug lecture to 10th graders?

But for many people, non-prescription codeine is the primary problem. In Ontario, more than 500 people have entered methadone treatments over the last three years for addictions to “over-the-counter codeine preparations,” according to a database maintained by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). Methadone is a substitute drug initially used as a treatment for heroin addicts and often considered a lifetime commitment.

Using methadone to treat a codeine addiction?  That doesn’t make much sense.  Say, is the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health a subsidiary of the NIDA?

The number of deaths is unknown, however. An analysis of Ontario coroners’ reports by the Ontario Drug Policy Research Network showed codeine played a role in 1,870 fatalities between 1991 and 2010 — but there is no way of knowing how many might be linked to non-prescription codeine.

They must be pretty desperate to show this “epidemic” by using statistics that cover a 20-year period.

For Juurlink, anyone with pain serious enough to require an opiate should get a doctor’s advice. Non-prescription codeine allows people to bypass that step.

I’m guessing that Dr. Juurlink has lots of money and doesn’t have to worry about deciding between food, health care, and medicine, even in Canada’s much better system.

“A sugar pill outperformed 60 mg of codeine,” Shah said… Shah now refuses to sell non-prescription codeine at his pharmacy. 

Sorry, I don’t believe a sugar pill outperformed codeine, and Mr. Shah is obviously using his prejudices to limit access — which says a lot about him, but nothing about the effectiveness of codeine to treat pain.

Sorry, Canada, it looks like America’s war against pain patients is now part of your drug war, too.

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