A functional dependence? A social history of the medical use of morphine in Australia

Matthew Grant, Jennifer Philip and Anna Ugalde
Med J Aust 2014; 200 (4): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.11091
Published online: 3 March 2014

The history of morphine use in Australia has shaped public perception and current challenges

Morphine has had an important role in the history of Australia and continues to play a major part in the medical, social and economic aspects of this country.1 The extent of its multitude of uses (and misuses), its constant depiction in the media, and its role in the history of Australia have created a complex public understanding of the drug. There is a broad array of perceptions regarding addiction, tolerance, fear of side effects and an association with death, which may complicate morphine’s use in clinical care.2 An understanding of the history of morphine in Australia can enable a greater understanding of its current use, and provide some background to the increases in opioid prescription seen in the past two decades.3,4

  • Matthew Grant1
  • Jennifer Philip2
  • Anna Ugalde3

  • Centre for Palliative Care, St Vincent’s Hospital and University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC.


Competing interests:

Matthew Grant has previously worked as a pharmacovigilance physician at Merck Sharp & Dohme, but he has no ongoing relationship with the company.


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