Intended for healthcare professionals


Opioid prescriptions in England doubled over 12 years, study shows

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 13 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4249
  1. Deborah Cohen
  1. The BMJ

The proportion of general practice patients in England given prescriptions of opioids and “Z drugs”—non-benzodiazepines such as zopiclone and zolpidem—doubled between 2000 and 2012, a new study has shown.1

Researchers from the Public Health Research Consortium, which is based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, analysed a random sample of 49 999 patients who between 2000 and 2015 were prescribed any dependence forming medicine: benzodiazepines, Z drugs, opioids, or “GABAergic” drugs (those producing an effect by interacting with the γ-amino-butyric acid receptor system). The sample was taken from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), a primary care database of anonymised medical records.

Excluding patients with diagnoses of cancer and epilepsy, the study found that the proportion of patients given prescriptions of dependence forming drugs increased from 6.3% of all patients …

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