Canadian drug producer questions why B.C. not offering cheaper methadone option

A Canadian drug manufacturer is questioning why B.C. won’t list its generic product it claims is half the price of the U.S. name brands that are currently being offered here.

Howard Kaminsky, president and CEO of Odan Laboratories Ltd., says the company’s generic brand methadone, which is commonly used in the treatment of opioid-use disorder, costs $52.50. That, he says, compares to $112.50 to $150 that brand names can cost, for virtually the same medication.

“As matter of fact we use the same bottle, we were so conscious of that … same colouring, same offering, we have sugar-free and we have cherry-flavoured, exactly like the brand,” he told CityNews.

Kaminsky questions the province’s decision to not offer a cheaper alternative, given the opioid crisis that continues in B.C.

“B.C., ironically, has probably if not the worst opioid crisis in Canada,” Kaminsky said, adding methadone is commonly used in Ontario and B.C.

“It’s an opioid deterrent … this is a very different thing than a pain opioid. This is one to weed people off of opioids. It is such a good drug and such an important drug that it’s puzzling why B.C. of all places is not allowing it.”

Kaminsky says Odan’s drug has also proven to be safe as B.C. has temporarily used it in the past during a U.S. name-brand shortage.

“Ontario also was very reluctant to list generics but that was a year and something ago … and there’s a track record and there’s no issues,” he explained.

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix says the province’s decision is made in conjunction with feedback from people on the frontlines.

“Interest of the pharmaceutical company is important as well … but we also have to listen to those who use the drugs, and that’s precisely what’s happened in this case,” said Dix.

“You’ll find on the issues of generic drugs, we’ve led the world on these questions … led Canada on biosimilars, saved $450 million.”

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