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      Consumption trends and prescription patterns of opioids from 2011 to 2016: a survey in a Chinese city

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          Opioid consumption in China has been very less and has varied widely since 1995. The representatively high level of consumption in Mainland China has never been reported. Our aim was to describe the consumption trends and prescription patterns of opioids in Nanjing, a highly developed city of Mainland China, and compare the results with selected worldwide regions.


          Application data of opioids in 2011–2016 were extracted from the Jiangsu Medicine Information Institute. Six opioids were included. Consumption was expressed in terms of defined daily doses (DDDs), morphine equivalents (MEs) and expenditure. The correlation between consumption of opioids and gross domestic product (GDP), Human Development Index (HDI) and cancer incidence was analysed by Pearson’s correlation test.


          DDDs, expenditure and MEs of opioids were, respectively, 256.04, $599.24 and 13.07 g in 2011, and increased to 361.27, $1041.79 and 18.09 g in 2016. DDDs in Nanjing were 2.80-fold that in Mainland China, 1.42-fold that in East and South-East Asia, but only equivalent to 8.89% of the worldwide average level. From 2011 to 2016, the consumption had a linear correlation with GDP, HDI and cancer incidence (p<0.05). However, DDDs varied greatly in countries with similar GDP or HDI. Within 45 Asian countries, the GDP only contributed to 10.47% of change in DDDs, while the HDI contributed to 20.32%. Consumption of non-intravenous opioids or strong opioids always comprised majority of the total consumption. The opioids prescribed predominantly were fentanyl, oxycodone and morphine. Fentanyl and oxycodone account for most of the increase in consumption.


          Opioid consumption has increased >40% from 2011 to 2016, with consumption of fentanyl and oxycodone accounting for most of that increase. The consumption in Nanjing was higher than the average Chinese level, but lower than the global average. An increase in pain control services might be needed, but this need should be highly regulated.

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          Most cited references 30

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          Use of opioid analgesics in the treatment of cancer pain: evidence-based recommendations from the EAPC.

          Here we provide the updated version of the guidelines of the European Association for Palliative Care (EAPC) on the use of opioids for the treatment of cancer pain. The update was undertaken by the European Palliative Care Research Collaborative. Previous EAPC guidelines were reviewed and compared with other currently available guidelines, and consensus recommendations were created by formal international expert panel. The content of the guidelines was defined according to several topics, each of which was assigned to collaborators who developed systematic literature reviews with a common methodology. The recommendations were developed by a writing committee that combined the evidence derived from the systematic reviews with the panellists' evaluations in a co-authored process, and were endorsed by the EAPC Board of Directors. The guidelines are presented as a list of 16 evidence-based recommendations developed according to the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation system. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Use of and barriers to access to opioid analgesics: a worldwide, regional, and national study.

            Despite opioid analgesics being essential for pain relief, use has been inadequate in many countries. We aim to provide up-to-date worldwide, regional, and national data for changes in opioid analgesic use, and to analyse the relation of impediments to use of these medicines.
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              Choosing the unit of measurement counts: the use of oral morphine equivalents in studies of opioid consumption is a useful addition to defined daily doses.

              Defined daily dose (DDD) is the most common measurement unit used in drug consumption studies. The DDD for opioids may not reflect their relative clinical potencies. The aim of this study was to explore whether opioid consumption data may be interpreted differently when adding oral morphine equivalent (OMEQ) dose as a measurement unit compared with using DDD. The equianalgesic ratio of each opioid relative to morphine was tabulated. Data on opioid consumption expressed in DDD were converted to OMEQs using the equianalgesic ratios. The opioid consumption was compared in three different study settings: clinical data from an opioid switching study, trends within one country and a comparison between countries. Using DDD, the opioid consumption in Norway between 2004-2008 increased of 6.7%, while the increase was 23.6% using OMEQ. While DDD/1000 inhabitants/day showed that Sweden had the highest consumption of opioids among the Nordic countries, OMEQ/1000 inhabitants/day showed that Denmark had the highest consumption. In the switching study DDD indicated a reduction in analgesic dosing and OMEQ an increase when switching from WHO step II to III. OMEQ reflects clinical dosing better than DDD, and can give additional insight into opioid consumption when combined with DDD. Using OMEQ can also lead to different conclusions in opioid consumption studies compared with using DDD alone.

                Author and article information

                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Open
                BMJ Publishing Group (BMA House, Tavistock Square, London, WC1H 9JR )
                1 March 2019
                : 9
                : 3
                [1 ] departmentDepartment of Pharmacy , Qinghai provincial Peoples Hospital , Xining, Qinaghai, China
                [2 ] departmentDepartment of Pharmacy , First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University , Nanjing, Jiangsu, China
                [3 ] departmentDepartment of Pharmacy , Jiangsu Medicine Information Institute , Nanjing, China
                Author notes
                [Correspondence to ] Dr Wentong Fang; fangwentong@
                © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2019. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

                This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

                Funded by: Nanjing pharmaceutical association - Changzhou Siyao hospital pharmaceutical grant;
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                pain management, morphine equivalent, defined daily dose, drug utilization, opioid analgesics


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