Opioids: “worrying” increase in oxycodone consumption in France

Home Opioids: “worrying” increase in oxycodone consumption in France
Written by Doug Hampton

The consumption of oxycodone, at the origin of the opiate crisis in the United States, has been on the rise in recent years in France. So much so that the French Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics warns of an increase that it considers “worrying”.

This analgesic is at the origin of the opioid crisis which has ravaged the United States since the end of the 1990s. Although the health situation is not comparable to the crisis across the Atlantic, Europe and France are also seeing the Opioid consumption has increased in recent years.

This Monday, May 22, the French Society of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (SFPT) alerted to the increase in the consumption of oxycodone, a powerful level 3 painkiller, in France. Like morphine, oxycodone is a strong opioid receptor agonist. “Its analgesic action is qualitatively similar to that of morphine. The therapeutic effect is mainly analgesic, anxiolytic, antitussive and sedative”describes the Vidal.

In France, oxycodone is marketed under the names of Oxsynia, Oxynorm or OxyContin. It is the latter, marketed by the Purdue Pharma laboratory in 1996, which has made many North Americans dependent. Over there, “the vast majority of patients reporting a use disorder initially took oxycodone as part of a medical prescription”, specifies the SFPT. In the United States, opioids have caused the deaths of more than 500,000 people, including more than 100,000 in 2021 alone.

A consumption initially to counter the pain

According to available addictovigilance data, drug use disorders in France are linked to the same cause : “reports of use disorders involving oxycodone mainly concern subjects initially exposed as part of analgesic management (73%)”.

Thus, according to the figures available, the involvement of oxycodone “in toxic deaths by painkillers quadrupled between 2013 and 2017”. While in 2017, morphine remained the leading level 3 opioid analgesic used, oxycodone marked an increase of 738% compared to 2006.

The more addictogenic profile of oxycodone

In France, “its prescription in France follows a worrying progression while it does not present any pharmacological advantage compared to morphine”. Indeed, according to the SFPT, nothing argues in favor of the use of oxycodone. Quite the contrary. “Oxycodone has a more significant and lasting dopaminergic action than morphine, which could be associated with a more addictogenic profile. In addition, it is likely to give rise to drug interactions, and would present a greater risk of cardiac arrhythmias than morphine”. While medical prescription is most often the cause of oxycodone use disorders, “Morphine remains to this day the level 3 analgesic of choice”.

Leave a Comment