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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

Authors Brattwall M, Turan I, Jakobsson J 

Published 4 August 2010 Volume 2010:3 Pages 131—135


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Metha Brattwall1, Ibrahim Turan2, Jan Jakobsson3
1Department of Anaesthesia, Institute for Clinical Sciences at Sahlgrenska Academy, Mölndal Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden; 2Foot and Ankle Surgical Centre, Stockholm, Sweden; 3Karolinska Institutet, Institution for Physiology and Pharmacology, Department of Anaesthesia, Stockholm, Sweden

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.

Keywords: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, tramadol, codeine, dextropropoxyphene, primary care, pattern of use, pharmacoepidemiology

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