Opioid Regulation: Time to Reconsider the Nomenclature and Approach
12 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 14, 2014
In Australia, deaths due to the ingestion of opioid analgesics, though numerically small, have been increasing at a rapid rate. The reasons for this increase are multifactorial; the conceptually outdated legislation that controls prescription and administration of opioid analgesics might be one of them. The stated purposes of the governing statutory instruments include prevention of the improper use of drugs of dependence and protection of the public. However, in order to achieve these aims, the relevant legislation should utilise theories and definitions that are consistent with the medical understanding of the relevant physiology and behaviour, so as to provide a common linguistic and conceptual platform for regulatory and clinical decision-makers. Although Victoria, with its intricate statutory framework for Schedule 8 poisons, is used as an example of an obsolescent approach to the concept of drug-dependency, conclusions reached are applicable to other jurisdictions, other scheduled drugs, and all health care practitioners who have the statutory authority to possess and prescribe them.
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