The economic burden of opioid prescription by dentists: A 12-month survey of consumer expenditure in Brazil

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Abstract

Objectives

To describe consumer expenditure on opioids prescribed by dentists in Brazil during a 12-month period.

Methods

We surveyed individual dispensed prescriptions of opioids in private pharmacies from October 2012 to September 2013. A descriptive analysis of costs included a calculation of the overall and mean maximum price to consumers. Monetary costs were converted from local currency units (Brazilian Real – BRL) to international dollars using purchasing power parity (PPP) exchanging rates.

Results

129,708 prescriptions were retrieved from the database. The overall expenditure on opioids was R$4,316,383.46 BRL or $2,721,315.82 (PPP). The mean cost of an individual prescription was R$33.27 BRL ($20.98 PPP), ranging from 14.19 to 3,255.60 BRL. Codeine was frequently prescribed (87.2 percent).

Conclusions

The expenditure on opioids is a significant cost to Brazilian patients, especially given that the Brazilian Public Health System should dispense these drugs free of charge. Codeine was the most prescribed opioid.

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