Journal article

Prescription drug abuse: a timely update

11 Dec 2016
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Description

Background: Prescription drug abuse is a rising problem in Australia and pharmaceutical drugs have been the most frequent contributors to overdose deaths in Victoria in recent years.

Objective/s: The objectives of this article are to examine the main prescription drugs contributing to overdose deaths and to consider how doctors may help in reducing this problem.

Discussion: Data from the Coroners Court of Victoria list the main drugs that contributed to drug-related deaths in 2009–15. Analysis of the data reveals that pharmaceutical drugs contributed to 80% of overdose deaths; benzodiazepines and opioids were the main drug groups involved. Strategies for reducing and managing prescription drug abuse in primary care settings are outlined in this article, including references to published evidence-based clinical guidelines from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). The safety profile of buprenorphine/ naloxone over methadone is noted and raised as a consideration for clinicians when assessing a patient for opioid replacement therapy.

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