Rising Trends of Prescription Opioid Sales in Contemporary Brazil, 2009-2015

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Abstract

Objectives

To present and discuss recent patterns of prescription opioid sales throughout Brazil.

Methods

We graphed linear trends of opioid prescriptions sold from registered pharmacies across Brazil from 2009 to 2015. We then calculated the change in rate of prescriptions sold per 1000 persons in 2015 compared with 2009.

Results

Opioid sales increased across Brazil from 1 601 043 prescriptions in 2009 to 9 045 945 prescriptions in 2015, corresponding to a 465% increase in 6 years. The largest absolute increase was for codeine products (rate ratio (RR) = 5.30; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 5.29, 5.31), accounting for more than 98% of prescriptions in both years. Oxycodone had the largest relative increase (RR = 11.39; 95% CI = 11.19, 11.59), and fentanyl products had the smallest absolute and relative increase (RR = 2.91; 95% CI = 2.78, 3.03).

Conclusions

Given rapid increases in opioid sales across Brazil, it is critical to introduce effective prescribing and monitoring methods that allow patients to access necessary medications without escalating risk of opioid misuse and related consequences. Careful surveillance of supply and subsequent outcomes are needed to prevent the development of another devastating opioid epidemic in the Americas.

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