Several overseas jurisdictions are already facing ‘crises’ in the widespread misuse of prescribed opioids and evidence shows Australia trending down a similar path. At the same time, it is important to recognise that strong opioids play a critical role in managing severe acute pain following trauma and major surgery and pain experienced in many forms of cancer and some other conditions. Any regulatory response must not unduly restrict informed, rational prescribing of opioids.
This paper will examine the issues around prescription opioid use and misuse in Australia and explore options for a regulatory response to any issues identified, although some areas that have a direct interaction with areas of regulation are addressed. It is noted at the outset that use, and misuse, of opioids is affected by a wider range of factors beyond regulation, but regulation as it relates to demand from patients and supply from prescribers can play an important role in underpinning appropriate use and minimising misuse.
Interested parties should respond by close of business Friday 2 March 2018.