In an effort to head off an opioid crisis of the severity seen in the US, the Australian government has introduced measures to restrict the medicinal supply of opioid painkillers.
An unintended side effect of these measures is that in some cases, they’ve left chronic pain sufferers without the medications they desperately need.
Over 5,000 GPs have so far received letters stating that their prescription of opioids is being monitored and that they should review their practice. This has caused some doctors to stop seeing chronic pain sufferers entirely.
In some cases these patients can find another doctor to take them on, but others have had to go to methadone clinics or simply go without.
The Australian Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Brendan Murphy has apologised to GPs who felt threatened by the letters, but said they were justified in order to reduce the nearly 1,000 deaths caused by opioid overdose each year in Australia.
The government has also recently announced that it will be reducing the size of post-operative opioid packs, and changing the indications for fentanyl so that it can only be used for cancer and palliative care patients.
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Source: ABC News