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Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Apr;64(4):411-5. Epub 2007 Dec 20.

Trends in the consumption of opioid analgesics in Spain. Higher increases as fentanyl replaces morphine.

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  • 1Institute of Pharmacoepidemiology, University of Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain.



During the past few years there have been changes in the availability of opioids in Spain, and new policies on palliative care have been implemented. The aim of this study was to describe the new pattern of opioid consumption in Spain and the associated economic impact.


A search in the ECOM (Especialidades Consumo de Medicamentos) database of the Ministry of Health and Consumer Affairs for the 1992-2006 period was carried out. This database contains information on prescriptions of primary care medicines that are covered by the National Health System in Spain.


Since 1992, overall opioid consumption has increased 14-fold, from 0.3 DDD/1000 inhabitants per day to 4.4 DDD/1000 inhabitants per day. For the six drugs that require a special prescription form--morphine, methadone, oxycodone pethidine, tilidine and fentanyl--consumption increased from 0.1 DDD/1000 inhabitants per day in 1992 to 1.2 in 2006. During this same period, the total costs of these prescriptions increased by 36.8-fold, and the cost per day and per patient doubled.


A huge increase in opioid consumption has occurred during the time period covered by this study, with fentanyl consumption accounting for most of that increase. Although oral morphine is the first-choice drug among strong opioids, fentanyl is currently the most consumed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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