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

Sub-zero Kelowna weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

Injury-riddled Rockets rally for U.S. roadtrip amidst 3-game losing streak

Kelowna sets off for a three-game road trip starting Friday against the Everett Silvertips

End of an era for Kelowna’s City of Gravity festival

The annual electronic dance music festival has no plans to return in 2020

Bottoms up: West Kelowna getting new craft brewery

Lakesider Brewery will open later this year after approval from city council

Four arrested, weapons, suspected drugs seized by RCMP in Penticton

Penticton RCMP take down local drug trafficking operation

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

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

RCMP release photos of man wanted in Princeton armed robbery

RCMP have released photos and a description of the man suspected of… Continue reading

Cougar not likely behind swine assault in Okanagan: BC Conservation

Coyotes, bobcat thought to be more likely culprit

Natural gas use skyrockets as temperatures plunge in Okanagan

Southern Interior use up 75 per cent Tuesday over average January

North Okanagan blaze sends woman to hospital

Firefighters rescue cat from early morning fire near Vernon

Special prosecutor to review Cranbrook toddler drowning case

Evidence disclosure at issue in the case of a woman sentenced for criminal negligence causing death

Vernon resident comes home to find stranger inside

Footprints in snow lead Vernon police to the home intruder

Skid-steer loader stolen from AIM Roads in North Okanagan

Loader was stolen early Monday morning along with a vehicle trailer from AIM maintenance lot

Most Read