Intended for healthcare professionals


Use of strong opioids in Canada rose sharply between 2005 and 2010

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 25 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5441
  1. Ann Silversides
  1. 1Perth, Ontario

Pharmacy dispensing in Canada of strong opioids, such as oxycodone and hydromorphone, increased by 42% between 2005 and 2010, a study has found.

The increase was calculated by converting pharmacy prescription data into defined daily doses (DDDs), showing an increase from 7.6 to 10.8 DDD per 1000 population/day. The study, published online in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety (2011, doi:10.1002/pds.2190), showed that consumption of weak opioids (codeine) decreased by more than 4% (from 12.7 to 12.2 DDD per 1000 population/day) over the same period with substantial variations in dispensing levels between provinces.

Benedikt Fischer, lead author of the study, said that Canada’s federal government has been “absolutely quiet” about the major public health challenge resulting from the escalating opioid related harms associated with increasing use.

The National Anti-Drug Strategy does not have “even a single word” about prescription drugs, said Professor Fischer, a professor at the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health …

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