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NHS Digital. Drug-related hospital admissions data for 2018-19 published in new report. 2019b. (accessed 11 December 2019)

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Pharmaceutical Journal. More than 40% of adults in England have a long-term condition, survey reveals. 2019a. (accessed 11 December 2019)

Pharmaceutical Journal. A call for action on high-dose opioid prescribing. 2019b. (accessed 11 December 2019)

More than 500,000 patients in England were prescribed an opioid for over three years, PHE finds. (accessed 11 December 2019)

High volume of opioid prescribing and the apparent consequences

02 January 2020
Volume 25 · Issue 1

Recent data show that more than 40% of adults in England have at least one long-term medical condition (NHS Digital, 2019a; Pharmaceutical Journal, 2019a). With many living with multiple long-term conditions and complex care needs, opioid prescribing is high, despite the rate not having increased since 2016 (Pharmaceutical Journal, 2019b). Concerns related to this volume of opioid prescription are being raised on several fronts.

According to new figures from NHS Digital, more than half of all hospital admissions for drug misuse poisoning are related to opioids other than heroin, such as codeine and morphine (NHS Digital, 2019b). In England, 18 053 people were admitted to hospital for poisoning resulting from drug misuse, and the primary diagnosis in 9486 of these cases was poisoning from opioids other than heroin (Burns, 2019).

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