In the first large-scale, observational study of opioid prescribing in Wales, it has been found that there has been a large increase in strong opioid prescribing for non-cancer pain, between 2005 and 2015.
Population groups of interest included the youngest and oldest adult age groups and people with depression or anxiety, particularly if living in the most deprived communities. The study suggests that based on this evidence, development of a Welsh national guidance on safe and rational prescribing of opioids in chronic pain would be advisable to prevent further escalation of these medicines.
The study had the aim of examining trends in strong opioid prescribing in a primary care population in Wales and identify if factors such as age, deprivation and recorded diagnosis of depression or anxiety may have influenced any changes noted.
A total of 345 Primary Care practices in Wales were included. Anonymised records of 1,223,503 people aged 18 or over, receiving at least one opioid prescription between 1 January 2005 and 31 December 2015 were analysed.
The increase was found to be 366.9% in areas of highest deprivation compared to 310.3% in the least. Areas of greatest deprivation had more than twice the rate of strong opioid prescribing than the least deprived areas of Wales.