Morphine consumption in outpatient treatment in Switzerland increased by 70% in 2017, according to a study by Helsana, the country’s biggest health insurer, in collaboration with the University Hospital of Basel and the Institute of Pharmaceutical Medicine.
The rise in consumption can partly be explained by increased prescriptions of the painkiller in psychiatric institutions, Le Matin Dimanche newspaper reportedexternal link on Sunday. Morphine is increasingly replacing methadone, which is given to drug addicts as a substitute for heroin, as morphine avoids certain side effects for patients.
But this increase was also part of a general increase in the consumption of legal opioids, which cover all painkillers, the paper said.
Figures from Interpharma, the association of Swiss pharmaceutical companies, show that the sale of opioids increased by around 50% between 2010 and 2017, from 1.27 million to 1.82 million units.