Seven times more opioid prescriptions in Canada and U.S. than Sweden: study

Amount of opioid dispensed was significantly higher in U.S. compared with Canada and Sweden

Prescription pills containing oxycodone. (The Canadian Press)

Patients in Canada and the United States filled opioid prescriptions after minor surgery at a rate that was seven times higher than those in Sweden, reveals a new study that suggests the addictive pain drugs could be used more judiciously in North America.

Researchers examined prescriptions filled by individuals in the first week after undergoing one of four low-risk operations in the three countries. Just 11 per cent of patients in Sweden filled an opioid prescription, compared with 79 per cent in Canada and 76 per cent in the U.S.

Among those who filled an opioid prescription, the amount of opioid dispensed was significantly higher in the U.S. compared with Canada and Sweden, adds the study published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open.

“I think there’s a lot of data, including this study, that suggests that patients are getting more opioids than they need for even just minor surgical procedures,” said Dr. Karim Ladha, a clinician-scientist at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital and co-author of the study, in an interview.

“The concern is really that we’re contributing to a supply of opioids in the community.”

Further, the study raises the question of whether opioids are necessary for pain management after surgery, Ladha said. Researchers didn’t have information about the post-operative pain experiences of patients in this study, but it appears many in Sweden were “getting by” without opioids after the same procedures, he said.

“Do we actually need them? While this study can’t answer this question, it’s driving what we’re going to do in the future, which is a randomized controlled trial to really test this hypothesis,” he said, adding he was in the process of applying for a grant for further research.

The study sample consisted of about 129,000 patients in the U.S., 85,000 in Canada and 9,800 in Sweden, between the ages of 18 and 64 who underwent gallbladder removal, appendix removal, meniscus repair or breast lump removal.

RELATED: Decriminalizing drugs the next steps in fighting B.C.’s opioid crisis, top doctor says

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penalties, poor luck problematic for Isles

Kerry Park playing well in playoffs, still haven’t beaten Oceanside

Brentwood boys make it four Island titles in a row

Mill Bay school off to provincials next week

Push on for new park in Maple Bay

Park would consolidate a number of properties on Herd Road

Editorial: Survey points CVRD in the right direction

The top concerns residents of the Cowichan Valley Regional District have come as no surprise.

Fashion Fridays: Tammy’s big makeover

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Notorious B.C. fugitive to be extradited from California on murder charge

Brandon Nathan Teixeira submitted to extradition during court proceedings Thursday in Sacramento

Canada prepared to monitor for community spread of COVID-19: Tam

The U.S. confirmed one case of the new coronavirus, or COVID-19, in California Thursday

Decade-long health care battle draws to a close today in B.C.

Dr. Brian Day began his battle a decade ago against the B.C. government

Speaker ‘will not tolerate illegal activity’ on B.C. legislature grounds, says chief of staff

Chief of staff to the B.C. speaker Alan Mullen says situation with demonstrators appears ‘fluid’

Conservative MP questions whether rail blockades constitute terrorism

Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett travelled to B.C. to meet Indigenous leaders

Lawsuit over African mine can be heard in British Columbia: Supreme Court

B.C. courts dismissed Nevsun’s attempts to make Eritrea the forum for any lawsuit proceedings

Clothing, jewelry, purses: RCMP ask court about disposal of evidence in Robert Pickton case

Pickton was sentenced to life with no chance of parole for 25 years for the murders of six women

Ryan nets hat trick in return as Senators beat Canucks 5-2

Ottawa winger received assistance for admitted alcohol problem

Most Read