Get access

Differences and over-time changes in levels of prescription opioid analgesic dispensing from retail pharmacies in Canada, 2005–2010

Authors

  • Benedikt Fischer,

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    • Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Wayne Jones,

    1. Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Murray Krahn,

    1. Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Jürgen Rehm

    1. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    2. Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Search for more papers by this author

  • This article was published online on July 13, 2011. Error was subsequently identified in the author name. This notice is included in the online and print versions to indicate that both have been corrected [September 29, 2011].

Benedikt Fischer, Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addictions, Simon Fraser University H2400, 515 West Hastings Street Vancouver, BC V6B 5K3, Canada. E-mail: bfischer@sfu.ca

ABSTRACT

Purpose

To examine qualitative and quantitative levels and trends of prescription opioid analgesics (“opioids”) use and the potential impact of prescription monitoring programs (PMPs), in the 10 Canadian provinces, for 2005–2010.

Methods

Opioid dispensing data from a representative sample of 2700 retail pharmacies were obtained. Individual opioid dispensing values were translated into defined daily doses per day/1000 population and categorized into “weak opioids” and “strong opioids” by standardized methods. Opioid prescription rates between provinces and over time, as well as the impact of PMPs, were examined using regression analyses techniques (i.e., Poisson, ANOVAs).

Results

Significant differences between provinces in the overall standardized rates of dispensing for total opioids, as well as for “weak opioids” and “strong opioids” categories, were found. The majority of provinces featured increases or curvilinear trends in the standardized amounts of opioids dispensed over time, mainly driven by increases in “strong opioids” use. In addition, significant inter-provincial differences in the levels of dispensing of individual opioids were found. Comparisons of changes in opioid dispensing between provinces with and without PMPs did not indicate significant differences.

Conclusions

Opioid use featured significant quantitative and qualitative differences between provinces in Canada and showed an overall increasing trend mainly driven by changes in “strong opioids” in the study period. Reasons for the observed differences are not clear yet require systematic examination to allow evidence-based interventions in the interest of equitable pain treatment as well as the reduction of high levels of opioid-related morbidity and mortality in Canada. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Get access to the full text of this article

Ancillary