02/29/2012 07:06 EST | Updated 04/30/2012 05:12 EDT

OxyContin Coverage In B.C. Dropped As OxyNEO, Replacement Drug, Restricted


VICTORIA - B.C. is joining several other provinces in dropping coverage of the powerful painkiller OxyContin as the drug's maker switches to a new product called OxyNEO.

In addition, the government will only cover OxyNEO on what it calls an "exceptional case-by-case" basis, except for palliative care patients who will continue to have the drug paid for by Pharmacare.

The health ministry points out OxyContin is highly addictive and widely abused and it's urging patients and their doctors to consider other drugs to manage pain.

OxyContin abusers often crush the pills and inject or inhale the drugs, producing a heroin-like high.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals stopped production of OxyContin Wednesday, replacing it with OxyNeo, which is formulated to make abuse more difficult.

Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Atlantic provinces have recently moved to severely restrict funding of both versions of the drug.