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עמוד בית
Tue, 28.05.24

Original Articles

IMAJ | volume 15

Journal 2, February 2013
pages: 89-93

Patterns of Opioid Consumption in Cancer Patients

    Summary

     Background: Opioids are considered a cornerstone in the treatment of cancer pain.

    Objectives: To assess opioid use during a 6 year period (2001–2006) among cancer patients served by Clalit Health Services, the largest health management organization in Israel.

    Methods: Purchasing data of opioids authorized for use in Israel were obtained from the computerized databases of Clalit for the period 2001–2006. Patients' demographic and cancer morbidity data were extracted. The data were analyzed by translating the purchased opioids (fentanyl patch, oxycodone, buprenorphine, methadone, hydromorphone) to oral morphine equivalents (OME).

    Results: During the study period 182,066 Clalit members were diagnosed with cancer; 58,443 (32.1%) of them died and 31,628 (17.3%) purchased opioids at least once. In 2001, 7.5% of Clalit cancer patients purchased opioids at least once within 5 years of the initial diagnosis. Between 2002 and 2006 this percentage increased consistently, reaching 9.9% in 2006. The average daily dose of opioids increased from 104.1 mg OME in the year 2001 to 115.2 mg OME in 2006 (11% increase). The average duration of opioid purchasing was 5.0 ± 8.3 months (range 1–84 months, median 2). During the study period 19,426 cancer patients who purchased opioids at least once died; only 14.3% (3274) were still alive 2 years after their first opioid prescription.

    Conclusions: Opioid purchasing increased during the study period, especially during the final months of life. Children (0–18 years old) and elderly male patients (≥ 65 years) began opioid treatment later compared to other age groups. Only a few patients had an opioid early enough to relieve their pain. 

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