More Reasons For Opioid Policy to Shift

Data From Germany Provide More Reasons For Policy to Shift From Prescription Pills to Harm Reduction – – By Jeffrey A. SingerAug 2019

In February of this year, I co-authored a paper in the Journal of Pain Research explaining why there is no correlation between the amount of opioids prescribed and the incidence of non-medical use or prescription pain-reliever use disorder.

See my post on this paper: Non-medical opioid users were not pain patients

Now researchers in Germany have provided more evidence to pour cold water on the idea of any relationship between the volume of opioid prescribing and the incidence of opioid use disorder.  

Publishing in the German Medical Association’s international science journal, they found that “the number of persons addicted to opioids in Germany has hardly changed over the past 20 years,” with an average of 3.1 persons per 1000 inhabitants across Germany.

This compares to data from the US National Survey on Drug Use And Health showing no significant change in “pain reliever use disorder” in adults age 12 and above from 2002-2014.

Germany rankssecond only to the US in opioid prescription volume. Canada and Australia rank third and sixth respectively. 

But another point of comparison must not go unnoticed:

  • the US leads the developed world in per capita opioid-related overdose deaths, while
  • Germany’s overdose rate is among the lowest in the developed world.

Germany’s overdose rate has been essentially unchanged for most of this century.

US policymakers remain obsessed over curtailing the prescription of opioids to patients in pain while the overdose rate continues to climb and patients suffer needlessly.

Below is the study referred to above:

Estimation of the Number of People With Opioid Addiction in Germany – free full-text /PMC6460011/ – Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2019 Mar


Comparisons with earlier estimates suggest that the number of persons addicted to opioids in Germany has hardly changed over the past 20 years.

Despite methodological limitations, this estimate can be considered highly valid. Nearly all persons who are addicted to opioids are in contact with the addiction care system.

4 thoughts on “More Reasons For Opioid Policy to Shift

  1. GZB

    My, oh my. Based on data from the U.S., what a surprise! I’m very tired of being a pawn in this ridiculous political pandering! While I wrote this I received a notification of verdict in the Johnson and Johnson trial. They have been ordered to pay $572,000,000! Mr. Propaganda himself must be so thrilled! He was the “expert witness” on this one! Johnson and Johnson products include duragesic (fentanyl) transdermal patches and tapendatol(spelling?) Yet the damages allowed are twice that of the makers of OxyContin? The states labeled them a “public nuisance “ because they supplied the ingredient that other drug manufacturers used to create their products.
    My opinion, Johnson and Johnson have very deep pockets. They are just as much an easy target as pain patients have been. Essentially, low hanging fruit. The state asked for over 17 billion, so maybe they got off easy? I don’t believe that. This is a precedent setting decision that will be used for the very large multi state suit set in Ohio later in the year. I cannot sufficiently express my disgust or angst at this moment.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. canarensis

    It occurred to me a while ago to wonder the following: if pain is so not-a-big-deal that we’re just supposed to live with it (& it’s not hard, according to the anti-opioid zealots), why is it that pain is used in torture, has been for pretty much all of human history? If pain is no big deal, then neither is the rack or the Iron Maiden or pulling out fingernails or breaking fingers with pliers or whatever. There’s a real logic disconnect there…but then that’s true with every aspect of this anti-opiate fundamentalism.

    Will logic, sense, sanity, or data ever overcome the zealotry and greed? I really wonder.

    Liked by 2 people


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