There are measures to reduce the use of heavy, addictive painkillers. This kind of means, the so-called opioids, has been taken more and more in recent years. The most commonly used agent from this group is oxycodone. Doctors often prescribe it easily and patients simply receive repeat prescriptions.
Minister Bruins for Medical Care is worried about this. “This is not about aspirin, but about very heavy and often addictive substances.” He points out that in the US a large group of people has become addicted. “I want to make sure we do not go that way.”
The number of people using oxycodone in the Netherlands has increased from 93,000 to 485,000 since 2008. The use of fentanyl rose from 65,000 to 111,000 during this period. According to experts, the boundary between use and abuse is often unclear.
Users often fail to finish without assistance. In the worst case, long-term use can lead to poisoning. The number of people who end up in emergency care or who need to be hospitalized has increased in recent years.
Doctors, pharmacists and other experts work together to reduce the use of heavy painkillers. Information is given and more research is being done into the effect of opioids.
The fact that more and more of these heavy painkillers are prescribed by doctors has several causes. The aging of the population also plays a part, as does the attention to pain management in doctors and in society. Medics sometimes still know too little about the negative effects and write these drugs easily and for a long time.
From the rain in the drip
“As a physician you want to help the patient as well as possible,” says Jako Burgers of the Dutch General Practitioners Association (NHG), which already has a guideline for the prescription of painkillers. “If something helps well, it is very difficult to change that.”
According to Burgers, some patients expect to receive a repeat prescription and it is necessary to explain why that is sometimes not a good idea. “When these drugs have been worked out and the pain is back, people tend to use it more, but the receptors on which the painkillers work become less sensitive, so they actually fall from the rain in the drip. deadline for phasing out. “