In September, Public Health England published a report on their review of the scale, distribution and causes of prescription drug dependence, and what might be done to address it. This included findings on opioid use for non cancer pain. The report made recommendations for action to reduce the problems caused by dependency and stated that effective, personalised care should include shared decision-making with patients and regular reviews of whether treatment is working.
Long-term prescribing of opioids for chronic, non-cancer pain is not effective for most patients. PHE’s analysis shows that, in 2017 to 2018, 5.6 million patients were prescribed opioid pain medicines for non cancer pain and that there are large variations across clinical commissioning groups (CCGs). After a long increasing trend, the annual number of prescriptions for opioid pain medicines has slightly decreased since 2016. Prescribing rates for opioid pain medicines had a strong association with deprivation, being higher in areas of greater deprivation.
See the PHE website for more details of the report and the implications for patients.