Challenging Opioid Use in Australia

17.12.2019

As does the USA, so does Australia – its a general rule for healthcare in this country.  For many years, Australia has followed in the footsteps of the USA when it comes to drugs, treatments, surgeries and complementary therapies.

And it makes sense.  A lot of huge pharmaceutical companies are American.  A lot of medical research is carried out at prestigious and well-funded American research institutions, clinics and tertiary education centers.

Even the trends we see in compounding pharmacies in the US (where they have almost as many compounding pharmacies as we have pharmacies in Australia) are followed here in Australia:

However, with the good comes the bad sometimes.

The US is in the grip of a horrible opioid crisis that is showing no signs of slowing down.  Mothers, fathers, kids, the elderly – no-one seems to be immune. In 2017, the death rates for opiod use surpassed the death rates for car accidents in the US.

As Australians, we look at reports like this and we say “But thats America. That wouldn’t happen here.”

But its approaching.  Fast. In 2018, deaths by accidental drug overdose surpassed car-related deaths IN AUSTRALIA. Of those, two-thirds had opioids present.

Australia – once again – is set to follow in the U.S. footsteps.

We need to look at alternative forms of pain management.  Utilising compounding techniques to deliver non-opioid pain relief to the sites that it needs to be is one way.  Compounding pharmacies can deliver targeted therapies to problem sites using Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) and other novel medicines by working with your GP and pain specialists – helping to avoid opioids in the first place.

Another such way is the use of medicinal marijuana.

The way is being paved – slowly – for a more widespread use of medicinal marijuana in Australia.  And the results are speaking for themselves in the US – where states that allow medical marijuana show a drop in opioid prescriptions, which are often the gateway to a more illicit problem for patients.

Where we have faltered in opioid prescribing by following the Americans, perhaps it is time to follow the Americans once again to help solve at least some of these problems.

If you would like to comment, visit facebook.com/acpharm and like our page.  There we will be posting regularly about this issue and throwing it open to discussion.