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Musculoskeletal pain: prescription of NSAID and weak opioid by primary health care physicians in Sweden 2004-2008 - a retrospective patient record review

Metha Brattwall, Ibrahim Turan, Jan Jakobsson
Journal of Pain Research 2010, 3: 131-5
21197316

PURPOSE: To study the prescription of oral analgesics for musculoskeletal pain by primary care physicians over a 5-year period in Sweden.

DESIGN: A retrospective automatic database review of patient records at four primary health care centers. All prescriptions of NSAIDs, weak opioids, and coprescriptions of gastroprotecting medications to patients with musculoskeletal were retrieved for the period January 1, 2004 to November 11, 2008.

RESULTS: A total of 27,067 prescriptions prescribed to 23,457 patients with musculoskeletal pain were analyzed. Of all prescriptions, NSAIDs were the most commonly prescribed analgesic comprising 79%, tramadol was the second most commonly prescribed analgesic comprising 9%, codeine the third most (7%), and dextropropoxyphene the fourth (5%). The proportion of NSAIDs and weak opioids and the proportion of the different weak opioids prescribed showed no change over time. The proportion of nonselective and selective NSAIDs prescribed changed; Coxib prescriptions decreased from 9% to 4% of all analgesics prescribed in 2004-2007 with no change in 2008.

CONCLUSION: NSAIDs were found to be the dominant class of analgesic prescribed by primary care physicians to patients diagnosed as musculoskeletal pain. No change was observed in the proportion of NSAID and weak opioid prescription over the period studied. Prescription of selective Coxibs decreased and was less than 4% in 2008. The impact on gastrointestinal and cardiovascular adverse effects associated with the extensive prescription of NSAIDS for musculoskeletal pain warrants further analysis.

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