Home > A comparison of opioids and benzodiazepines dispensing in Australia.

Islam, M. Mofizul and Wollersheim, Dennis (2019) A comparison of opioids and benzodiazepines dispensing in Australia. PLoS ONE, 14, (8), e0221438. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221438.

External website: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.13...

Background: Inappropriate utilization of prescription opioids and benzodiazepines is a public health problem. This study examined and compared user-types and trends in dispensing of these medicines, and identified associated factors related to the duration of dispensing in Australia.


Methods: A random 10% sample of unit-record data of opioids and benzodiazepines dispensed nationally during 2013–2016 was analyzed. Users were categorized into four types: single-quarter (i.e., three months), medium-episodic (dispensed 2–6 quarters), long-episodic (dispensed 7–11 quarters), chronic (dispensed 12–16 quarters). Dispensing quantity was computed in defined daily dose (DDD). Generalized multilevel ordinal models were developed to examine the factors associated with the duration of dispensing.


Results: There were similarities in terms of trends of dispensing of opioids and benzodiazepines in Australia. Overall, more people were dispensed opioids than benzodiazepines. Around 52% of opioids users and 46% of benzodiazepines users were dispensed these medicines for a single quarter. However, chronic users were dispensed 60% of opioids and 50% of benzodiazepines in DDD/1000 people/day, respectively. On average, 16.6 DDD/1000 people/day of opioids and 14.2 DDD/1000 people/day of benzodiazepines were dispensed in Australia during the study period. Tasmania was dispensed the highest quantity (in DDD/1000 people/day) of these medicines, followed by South Australia and Queensland. Women compared to men, and clients of age-group 20–44, 45–64 and 65+ compared to age-group 0–19, were significantly more likely to have dispensed opioids/benzodiazepine for a relatively long duration. Clients with a history of dispensing of one of these two medicines were significantly more likely to have dispensed the other for a relatively long period.


Conclusions: There were similarities in patterns of dispensing of opioids and benzodiazepines in terms of user characteristics and structural variables. Consistent use of real-time drug monitoring program and tailored intervention are recommended.

Item Type
Publication Type
International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
CNS depressants / Sedatives, Opioid, Prescription/Over the counter
Intervention Type
Drug therapy, Treatment method
August 2019
Identification #
Public Library of Science

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