Opioid prescriber responsibility: A Danish drug utilization study

Anton Pottegård*, Anne Mette Skov Sørensen, Morten Olesen, Lotte Rasmussen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Aims: We describe the distribution of prescribers responsible for opioid initiation and maintenance (general practice, hospital prescribers and other prescribers) in Denmark. Methods: We leveraged data on opioid fills from a 20% sample of all Danes alive during 2000–2021. Results: Overall, general practitioners were responsible for most treatment initiation (74% during 2000–2021) and maintenance treatment (92%). However, while hospital prescribers initiated ≈20% of treatments during 2001–2012, this increased to 35% in 2021. Similarly, hospital prescriber's share of maintenance treatment increased from 5.9% during 2000–2012 to 13% in 2021. This change was particularly pronounced for morphine initiation (48% hospital prescribers in 2021 up from 38% during 2000–2010) and oxycodone initiation (78% up from 41%). Regarding choice of opioids, codeine use dropped markedly, in particular among hospital prescribers. Tramadol was consistently the most common first choice opioid in general practice (33% in 2021), whereas its use among hospital prescribers decreased (54% during 2000–2015 to 15% in 2021). Conversely, the proportion of treatment initiation by hospital prescribers composed of morphine and oxycodone increased to 38% and 42% in 2021, respectively. Conclusions: General practice prescribes most opioids; however, hospital prescribers are increasingly responsible for opioid prescribing, in particular initiation of morphine and oxycodone.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1425-1430
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • drug utilization
  • morphine and oxycodone
  • opioids
  • pain
  • pharmacotherapy
  • prescribing
  • tramadol
  • Humans
  • Morphine
  • Drug Utilization
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Analgesics, Opioid/therapeutic use
  • Oxycodone/therapeutic use


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