A new report from the OECD has highlighted a rise in opioid-related deaths, which it says is being partly fuelled by an increase in prescribing and over-prescribing of opioids for pain management.
The Addressing Problematic Opioid Use in OECD Countries report shows that between 2011 and 2016, in the 25 OECD countries with available data, opioid-related deaths increased by more than 20 per cent. This rise is most pronounced in Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Canada, the United States and England & Wales.
The report calls for improved prescribing practices through evidence-based clinical guidelines and increased surveillance of opioid prescriptions, as well as the regulation of marketing and financial relationships with opioid manufacturers.
It says countries should also consider better opioid-related literacy; better access to treatment and harm minimisation interventions; better approach across the health, social and criminal justice systems; and better knowledge and research for supporting decision-making at all levels.
"The opioid epidemic has hit the most vulnerable hardest,” said Gabriela Ramos, OECD Chief of Staff. “Governments need to take decisive action to stop the tragic loss of life and address the terrible social, emotional and economic costs of addiction with better treatment and health policy solutions."