How doctors and big pharma helped create North America’s fentanyl crisis

published on June 22, 2016 by Tamara Khandaker in VICE News

Before fentanyl became the latest villain in a full-blown overdose crisis in Canada, Kelly Lanktree was in need of something to numb the excruciating pain in her knee.

She had tumbled down stairs at work in 2009 and her doctor steered her towards OxyContin. The drug, she found, was not only effective at treating her physical pain, but also at temporarily freeing her of her emotional issues built up after years of abuse.

“Organized crime groups have … moved in because it’s now very lucrative,” said Dr. Keith Ahamad, a clinician at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. “The origin of the problem absolutely comes from doctors’ prescription pads. We’ve created this cohort of people who are physically dependent and addicted to these medications, and now they’re looking for them in the black market, but it’s not the same drug.”

“These people who are looking for oxycodone, which they were using before … but it’s been replaced by illegal fentanyl,” he explained.

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