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Should we be routinely co‐prescribing naloxone for patients on long term opioids?

Pallavi Prathivadi and Suzanne Nielsen
Med J Aust || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51026
Published online: 26 April 2021

Community naloxone supply to prevent fatal overdose needs to consider patients using pharmaceutical opioids

Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) opioid prescriptions in Australia have increased from 2.4 million in 1992 to 7 million in 2007 to 15 million prescriptions in 2016.1 The corresponding rate of opioid mortality over this time almost doubled from 3.8 deaths per 100 000 Australians in 2007 to 6.7 in 2017,2 with fatal opioid overdoses increasing from 482 in 2002 per 100 000 Australians to 900 in 2018.3 Most of these deaths involved prescription opioids, and contrary to what many assume, only one‐third of prescription opioid‐related deaths involved intravenous drug use.4 Among deaths associated with common prescription opioids (including fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, tramadol and codeine), 49% involved people with chronic pain.4

  • Pallavi Prathivadi1
  • Suzanne Nielsen2

  • 1 Monash University, Melbourne, VIC
  • 2 Monash Addiction Research Centre, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC


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