Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The NHS Understates Opioid Use: It's a Problem

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The NHS Understates Opioid Use: It's a Problem

Article excerpt

THIS newspaper's David Cohen has found from a Freedom of Information request that the number of people who have been prescribed opioid painkillers in England is twice the total previously released by the NHS: 6.2 million people rather than 3.1 million. That's a significant figure.

It means the existing information released by the NHS significantly underestimated the scale of opioid use and the consequent opioid addiction. By omitting three common opioid analgesic compounds, Co-codamol, Co-dydramol and Co-proxamol from the data, the figures seemed less alarming than they were. And it is a problem. European studies suggest there is a four per cent addiction rate as a result of opioid use. If twice as many people are taking prescription opioids, then the addicts that result may be twice as many too. That equates to real harm to real people: perhaps as many as 250,000, and their families.

But that's not all. Cohen found that the total number of opioid analgesic prescriptions dispensed to 6. …

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