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Papers of the Week

2022 Jan 20




Trends in the Prescription of Strong Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain in Primary Care in Catalonia: Opicat-Padris-Project.


Perelló-Bratescu A, Dürsteler C, Álvarez-Carrera M A, Granés L, Kostov B, Sisó-Almirall A
Pharmaceutics. 2022 Jan 20; 14(2).
PMID: 35213969.


In chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP), evidence of the effectiveness of strong opioids (SO) is very limited. Despite this, their use is increasingly common. To examine SO prescriptions, we designed a descriptive, longitudinal, retrospective population-based study, including patients aged ≥15 years prescribed SO for ≥3 months continuously in 2013-2017 for CNCP in primary care in Catalonia. Of the 22,691 patients included, 17,509 (77.2%) were women, 10,585 (46.6%) were aged >80 years, and most had incomes of <€18,000 per year. The most common diagnoses were musculoskeletal diseases and psychiatric disorders. There was a predominance of transdermal fentanyl in the defined daily dose (DDD) per thousand inhabitants/day, with the greatest increase for tapentadol (312% increase). There was an increase of 66.89% in total DDD per thousand inhabitants/day for SO between 2013 (0.737) and 2017 (1.230). The mean daily oral morphine equivalent dose/day dispensed for all drugs was 83.09 mg. Transdermal fentanyl and immediate transmucosal release were the largest cost components. In conclusion, there was a sustained increase in the prescription of SO for CNCP, at high doses, and in mainly elderly patients, predominantly low-income women. The new SO are displacing other drugs.