Geographical Variation in Opioid Prescribing and Opioid-Related Mortality in Ontario
Overdoses and deaths involving prescription opioids are a major public health concern. Recent data from the United States indicate an opioid-related death rate of 6.4 per 100,000 population annually, which exceeds the annual human immunodeficiency virus–related death rate at 4.0 per 100,000 population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2009; Heron et al. 2009). Although the relationship between opioid prescriptions and the risk of adverse events is becoming more widely appreciated (Dhalla et al. 2009; Dunn et al. 2010), opioid prescribing practices, abuse and diversion have been shown to exhibit substantial geographical variability, and this may have implications for public health policy decisions and interventions (Curtis et al. 2006; Webster et al. 2009).