Pattern of opioid prescription by dentists in Nova Scotia
Aiming to help alleviate the opioid crisis, a group of researchers set out to understand prescription patterns of opioid analgesics by dentists in Nova Scotia, Canada. I sat down with Dr. Kudirat Jimoh, corresponding author of this study. The group’s aim was to inform dentists and policy makers on the types and dosages of opioid analgesics being prescribed by dentists. The study may prompt dentists to reflect on and adjust their practice of opioid analgesic prescription in light of the current opioid analgesic epidemic.
Dr. Kudirat Jimoh is a periodontist in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
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- Global consumption of prescription opioid analgesics has increased dramatically in the past two decades; outpacing that of illicit drugs in some countries. The increase has been partly ascribed to the widespread availability of prescription opioid analgesics and their subsequent non-medical use, which may have contributed to the epidemic of opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose-related deaths.
- International studies report that dentists may be among the leading prescribers of opioid analgesics, thus adding to the societal impact of this epidemic. Between 2009 and 2011, dentists in the USA prescribed 8 to 12% of opioid analgesics dispensed. There is little information on the pattern of opioid analgesic prescription by dentists in Canada.
- The aim of this study was to examine the pattern of opioid analgesics prescription by dentists in Nova Scotia (NS), Canada.
- This study used the provincial prescription monitoring program’s record of oral opioid analgesics and combinations dispensed to persons 16 years and older at community pharmacies that were prescribed by dentists between January 2011 and December 2015. During the study period, more than 70% of licensed dentists in NS wrote a prescription for dispensed opioid analgesics, comprising about 17% of all opioid analgesic prescribers. However, dentists were responsible for less than 4% of all prescriptions for dispensed opioid analgesics, prescribing less than 0.5% of the total morphine milligram equivalent (MMEq) of opioid analgesics dispensed over the five years.
- There was a significant downward trend in total MMEq of dispensed opioid analgesics prescribed by dentists from about 2.23 million MMEq in 2011 to 1.93 million MMEq in 2015 (r = – 0.97; p=0.006).
- Opioid prescription is common among dentists, but their contribution to the overall availability of opioid analgesics is low.
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Dr. Jimoh’s Bio
Dr. Kudirat Jimoh is a Periodontist. She holds a Masters degree in Periodontics from Dalhousie University and an MDPH (Masters degree in Dental Public Health) from University College Cork, in Ireland. Dr. Jimoh is a member of the Faculty of Dental Surgery, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow, Scotland (MFDS-Glasgow). She is also a Fellow-Elect of the Royal College of Dentists of Canada. She worked in dental specialty training posts in the United Kingdom, and as a General dental surgeon in the Republic of Ireland, before coming to Canada. She is a co-author of the study on opioid analgesic prescription by dentists for adults in Nova Scotia, which was based on her research work as part of the requirements for the award of the Masters of Periodontics degree at Dalhousie University.