August 25, 2010

Canadian Prescriptions for Painkillers Harder to Obtain

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Due to a growing misuse of prescription pain-killers in Canada, prescriptions for drugs like morphine, codeine, and oxycodone are now “rationed” by Canadian doctors. Experts have recently created specific guidelines that test patients who ask for painkillers. Doctors are now more careful about who they prescribe hard painkillers to.

Canada is now thought to be the third-largest opioid consumer per capita in the world. There was a 50 percent increase of the use of painkiller drugs between 2000 and 2004.  The proper use of opioid painkillers is to be effective in patients with chronic pain (that persists for more than 6 months). These drugs are very strong and easily addictive, and are even being sold by drug dealers on the street.

The guidelines in the article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal are meant to help doctors safely prescribe medications to patients who need them, and prevent patients who abuse them from obtaining a prescription.  The goal of the article is to reduce the diversion and addiction problems associated with these heavy painkillers.  When used properly these drugs are good medications and help many people who suffer from long-term pain. The guidelines include advice on which medications are effective for which types of pain, the recommendation that patients give urine tests to test for the use of painkillers, dosage recommendations that start with low doses and gradually increase to test for effectiveness, signs of possible drug abuse and how to spot prescription fraud, and guidelines for patients who are stopping the use of opioids.

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