Home > Is Europe also facing an opioid crisis? - A survey of European Pain Federation chapters.

Häuser, Winfried and Buchser, Eric and Finn, David P and Dom, Geerd and Fors, Egil and Heiskanen, Tarja and Jarlbaek, Lene and Knaggs, Roger D and Kosek, Eva and Krcevski-Škvarč, Nevenka and Pakkonen, Kaire and Perrot, Serge and Trouvin, Anne-Priscille and Morlion, Bart (2021) Is Europe also facing an opioid crisis? - A survey of European Pain Federation chapters. European Journal of Pain, 25, (8), pp. 1760-1769. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.1786.

External website: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ejp.17...

There is considerable public interest in whether Europe is facing an opioid crisis comparable to the one in the United States and the contribution of opioid prescriptions for pain to a potential opioid crisis.

A task force of the European Pain Federation (EFIC) conducted a survey with its national chapter representatives on trends of opioid prescriptions and of drug-related emergency departments and substance use disorder treatment admissions and of deaths as proxies of opioid-related harms over the last 20 years.

Data from 25 European countries were received. In most European countries opioid prescriptions increased from 2004 to 2016. The levels of opioid consumption and their increase differed between countries. Some Eastern European countries still have a low opioid consumption. Opioids are mainly prescribed for acute pain and chronic noncancer pain in some Western and Northern European countries. There was a parallel increase in opioid prescriptions and some proxies of opioid-related harms in France, Finland and the Netherlands, but not in Germany, Spain and Norway. In United Kingdom, opioid overdose deaths, but not opioid prescriptions increased between 2016 and 2018. There are no robust data available on whether prescribed opioids for pain patients contributed to opioid-related harms.

There are marked differences between European countries in trends of opioid prescribing and of proxies for opioid-related harms. Europe as a whole is not facing an opioid crisis. Discussions on the potential harms of opioids should not obstruct their prescription for cancer pain and palliative care.

Europe as a whole is not facing an opioid crisis. Some Eastern European countries have limited access to opioid medicines. Discussions on the potential harms of opioid medicines for noncancer pain should not obstruct opioid therapy for cancer therapy and palliative care.

Item Type
Publication Type
Irish-related, International, Open Access, Article
Drug Type
Opioid, Prescription/Over the counter
Intervention Type
Prevention, Harm reduction
September 2021
Identification #
Page Range
pp. 1760-1769

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