A comparison of opioids and benzodiazepines dispensing in Australia Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Inappropriate utilization of prescription opioids and benzodiazepines is a public health problem. This study examined and compared user-types and trends in dispensing of these medicines, and identified associated factors related to the duration of dispensing in Australia. METHODS:A random 10% sample of unit-record data of opioids and benzodiazepines dispensed nationally during 2013-2016 was analyzed. Users were categorized into four types: single-quarter (i.e., three months), medium-episodic (dispensed 2-6 quarters), long-episodic (dispensed 7-11 quarters), chronic (dispensed 12-16 quarters). Dispensing quantity was computed in defined daily dose (DDD). Generalized multilevel ordinal models were developed to examine the factors associated with the duration of dispensing. RESULTS:There were similarities in terms of trends of dispensing of opioids and benzodiazepines in Australia. Overall, more people were dispensed opioids than benzodiazepines. Around 52% of opioids users and 46% of benzodiazepines users were dispensed these medicines for a single quarter. However, chronic users were dispensed 60% of opioids and 50% of benzodiazepines in DDD/1000 people/day, respectively. On average, 16.6 DDD/1000 people/day of opioids and 14.2 DDD/1000 people/day of benzodiazepines were dispensed in Australia during the study period. Tasmania was dispensed the highest quantity (in DDD/1000 people/day) of these medicines, followed by South Australia and Queensland. Women compared to men, and clients of age-group 20-44, 45-64 and 65+ compared to age-group 0-19, were significantly more likely to have dispensed opioids/benzodiazepine for a relatively long duration. Clients with a history of dispensing of one of these two medicines were significantly more likely to have dispensed the other for a relatively long period. CONCLUSIONS:There were similarities in patterns of dispensing of opioids and benzodiazepines in terms of user characteristics and structural variables. Consistent use of real-time drug monitoring program and tailored intervention are recommended.

publication date

  • 2019