Opioid consumption by cancer patients in an Israeli Health Maintenance Organization from 2007–2018

Sasson Menahem, Tamar Freud, Erez Batat, Pesach Shvartzman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Purpose: Opioids are the cornerstone of therapy for cancer patients with moderate to severe pain. The objective was to characterize opioid purchases by cancer patients in Clalit Health Services (CHS), the largest Health Maintenance Organization in Israel, over the years 2007–2018. Methods: Data for all CHS cancer patients aged 18 years old and above who purchased an opioid at least once during the 12-year study period were obtained from computerized databases. The amount of opioids was converted into oral morphine equivalents (OME). Results: 108,543 cancer patients who purchased opioids at least once were enrolled. They comprised 30.5% of the CHS purchasers of opioids in the study period. The total number of cancer patients who purchased an opioid at least once increased gradually from 13,057 in 2007 to 20,675 (58% increase) in 2018, while the annual number of CHS cancer patients increased by only 39%. The annual OME per capita increased from 753 mg in 2007 to 1,432 mg in 2018 (91% increase). In 2007 8.1% of the cancer patients purchased opioids and 9.2% in 2018. Two thirds of all cancer patients purchased opioids for three months or less, 11.9% continued for more than one year, and 5.8% for more than two years. Conclusions: There is a clinically non-significant increase in the rate of cancer patients purchasing opioids. About two thirds of the cancer patients purchased opioids for only three months, and 94% for up to two years. Under-treatment of cancer pain should still be of concern. While patients are prescribed higher doses, under-prescription may still be a problem.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number560
    JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
    Volume31
    Issue number10
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Oct 2023

    Keywords

    • Cancer patients
    • Consumption
    • Opioids
    • Pain relief

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Oncology

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