Opioid painkiller prescriptions fall slightly, following awareness of the risks

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

There appears to be a slowdown in the number of prescriptions being given for heavy opioid painkillers, the Volkskrant reported on Monday.

The number of prescriptions fell by a ‘couple of percentage points’ in the first seven months of this year, after remaining stable in 2018, the paper said. It bases its claim on figures from the drugs monitoring body SFK, which also show the number of users has fallen slightly.

Last week, Leiden University researchers said the number of people ending up in hospital after using heavy painkillers soared by almost 50% within four years and more people were dying of accidental overdoses in the Netherlands.

The figures, published on academic website JAMA Network Open, cover the period 2013 to 2017 and show that the number of people prescribed opioid painkillers rose from 4.9% of the population to 6% during the four year period. However, both hospital admissions and overdoses all rose by around 50%.

Leiden professor Albert Dahan told the Volkskrant that news of the decline in usage is ‘fantastic’ and would appear to be the result of increased awareness of the problems caused by opioids.

Nevertheless, the drop of a ‘couple of percentage points,’ is still far too little, Dahan said.

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