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Pharmacology Research Supporting Your Practice

Pattern of Opioid Analgesic Prescription for Adults by Dentists in Nova Scotia


I have just come across this paper that was recently published by Canadian authors in the journal JDR Clinical & Translational Research. I thought it would interest you, so I present below the publicly-available abstract along with a link to the journal, in the event that you wish to purchase the article and/or familiarize yourself with the publication. Dr. Jocelyne Feine of McGill University is editor in chief of the journal.

All the best,



Pattern of Opioid Analgesic Prescription for Adults by Dentists in Nova Scotia, Canada

K.O. Jimoh, D.C. Matthews, M. Brillant, and I. Sketris

JDR Clinical & Translational Research (April 2018):  DOI: 10.1177/2380084418761330



Global consumption of prescription opioid analgesics has increased dramatically in the past 2 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 nonmedical 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 United States 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 retrospective observational study used the provincial prescription monitoring program’s record of oral opioid analgesics and combinations dispensed to persons 16 y and older at community pharmacies that were prescribed by dentists from January 2011 to 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 5 y. 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. Furthermore, there has been a downward trend in total dispensed MMEq of opioid analgesics prescribed by dentists.

Knowledge Transfer Statement: 

This study will serve to inform dentists and policy makers on the types and dosage of opioid analgesics being prescribed by dentists. The study may prompt dentists to reflect on and adjust their practice of opioid analgesic prescription in view of the current opioid analgesic epidemic.

Link to the journal landing pagehttp://journals.sagepub.com/home/jct 

End Note: Wouldn’t it be great if such research could be conducted in every jurisdiction across the land? It could well help to dispel some myths that are circulating about the impact of dentist prescribing patterns on the opioid crisis. What can we do, individually and collectively, to move that agenda forward? Please look out for upcoming posts on Oasis about this type of research.

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