Minimising the misuse of oxycodone and other pharmaceutical opioids in Australia

Wayne D Hall and Michael P Farrell
Med J Aust 2011; 195 (5): . || doi: : 10.5694/mja11.10832
Published online: 5 September 2011

Simple strategies can reduce harms from misuse of pharmaceutical opioids

Sustained-release opioid drugs have been used increasingly over the past two decades to treat all types of chronic pain, including chronic non-cancer pain.1 Rates of prescribing have increased in developed countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States since the beginning of the 21st century.2-4 In the US, aggressive marketing of sustained-release formulations of oxycodone to primary care physicians and directly to patients between 1996 and 20075,6 resulted in a 10-fold increase in their per-capita use, and an alarming increase in the number of deaths from overdose with prescription opioids. In 2007, the number of deaths from oxycodone and other pharmaceutical opioids (11 499) outnumbered overdose deaths from illicit heroin and cocaine combined (around 8000).7

  • 1 University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, Brisbane, QLD.
  • 2 National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW.


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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