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Trends and changes in prescription opioid analgesic dispensing in Canada 2005-2012: An update with a focus on recent interventions

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Abstract

Background: Prescription opioid analgesic (POA) utilization has steeply increased globally, yet is far higher in established market economies than elsewhere. Canada features the world's second-highest POA consumption rates. Following increases in POA-related harm, several POA control interventions have been implemented since 2010. Methods. We examined trends and patterns in POA dispensing in Canada by province for 2005-2012, including a focus on the potential effects of interventions. Data on annual dispensing of individual POA formulations - categorized into 'weak opioids' and 'strong opioids' - from a representative sub-sample of 5,700 retail pharmacies across Canada (from IMS Brogan's Compuscript) were converted into Defined Daily Doses (DDD), and examined intra- and inter-provincially as well as for Canada (total). Results: Total POA dispensing - driven by strong opioids - increased across Canada until 2011; four provinces indicated decreases in strong opioid dispensing; seven provinces indicated decreases specifically in oxycodone dispensing, 2011-2012. The dispensing ratio weak/strong opioids decreased substantively. Major inter-provincial differences in POA dispensing levels and qualitative patterns of POA formulations dispensed persisted. Previous increasing trends in POA dispensing were reversed in select provinces 2011-2012, coinciding with POA-related interventions. Conclusions: Further examinations regarding the sustained nature, drivers and consequences of the recent trend changes in POA dispensing - including possible 'substitution effects' for oxycodone reductions - are needed. © 2014 Fischer et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

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Fischer, B., Jones, W., & Rehm, J. (2014). Trends and changes in prescription opioid analgesic dispensing in Canada 2005-2012: An update with a focus on recent interventions. BMC Health Services Research, 14. https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6963-14-90

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