INCREASING DEATHS FROM PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDS

November 2, 2012

INCREASING DEATHS FROM PRESCRIPTION OPIOIDS

There has been growing evidence that deaths from prescription opioid use is on the increase across Australia.  Drugs like oxycodone and fentanyl have been increasingly prescribed for chronic non-cancer pain, leading to concerns that doctors may be over-prescribing.  Professor Louisa Degenhardt from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) has written an article for the ABC's Drum Opinion site titled "Prescription opioids: a painful problem".  Professor Degenhardt explains these trends by showing that there are in fact a number of complex factors at play which has led to the increasing use of opioids in Australia.  This includes the aging population, leading to increasing numbers of people living with chronic pain, but also the overlap between chronic pain and mental health problems like depression.  There also seems to be a disproportionate focus on people who inject illict drugs, despite most of the evidence suggestsing this population consume only a very small amount of the oxycodone being prescribed.

Read "Prescription opioids: a painful problem" here