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Opioid painkillers are prescribed more in northern England

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Doctors in England have been prescribing opioid painkillers disproportionately to people in the least affluent parts of the nation.

An analysis of nearly three years of prescribing data up to February 2014 found that northern England contained 9 out of 10 of the regions where eight opioid painkillers were most frequently prescribed.

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Many of these regions fall in socially deprived areas. From earlier research we know that 40 per cent of men and 44 per cent of women in the poorest quarter of England’s population experience chronic pain.

In the US, the opioid crisis has already reached epidemic levels. Last week, Congress adopted a budget that includes $1.5 billion spread over the next decade to help families with babies born addicted to opioids.

Purdue Pharmaceuticals, which sells the painkiller OxyContin, said last week that it will no longer actively market opioids to doctors.

Journal reference: British Journal of General Practice, DOI: 10.3399/bjgp18X695057

Read more: Trump’s 90-day plan for opioids has failed – here’s a better one

This article appeared in print under the headline “Poorer people and prescription opioids”

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