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Papers: 14 Jan 2023 - 20 Jan 2023

2023 Jan 13

Environ Sci Technol

National Wastewater Reconnaissance of Analgesic Consumption in Australia.


Ahmed F, Tscharke B, O'Brien JW, Hall WD, Cabot PJ, Sowa MP, Samanipour S, Thomas KV
Environ Sci Technol. 2023 Jan 13.
PMID: 36637365.


A wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) method is presented to estimate analgesic consumption and assess the burden of treated pain in Australian communities. Wastewater influent samples from 60 communities, representing ∼52% of Australia's population, were analyzed to quantify the concentration of analgesics used to treat pain and converted to estimates of the amount of drug consumed per day per 1000 inhabitants using pharmacokinetics and WBE data. Consumption was standardized to the defined daily dose per day per 1000 people. The population burden of pain treatment was classified as mild to moderate pain (for non-opioid analgesics) and strong to severe pain (for opioid analgesics). The mean per capita weighted total DDD of non-opioid analgesics was 0.029 DDD/day/person, and that of opioid-based analgesics was 0.037 DDD/day/person across Australia. A greater burden of pain (mild to moderate or strong to severe pain index) was observed at regional and remote sites. The correlation analysis of pain indices with different socioeconomic descriptors revealed that pain affects populations from high to low socioeconomic groups. Australians spent an estimated US $3.5 (AU $5) per day on analgesics. Our findings suggest that WBE could be an effective surveillance tool for estimating the consumption of analgesics at a population scale and assessing the total treated pain burden in communities.