Opioid use in an Israeli health maintenance organization: 2000-2006

Pesach Shvartzman, Tamar Freud, Yoram Singer, Silviu Brill, Michael Sherf, Erez Battat, Daniel Vardy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. The objective of this study was to assess opioid use during 7 years (2000-2006) among Clalit Health Services (CHS) members. Design. Purchasing data of opioids authorized for use in Israel were obtained from the computerized databases of CHS. Patient demographics and cancer morbidity were also extracted. The data were analyzed by converting the purchased opioids to oral morphine equivalents (OMEs). Setting. CHS is the largest health maintenance organization in Israel (3,774,600) and insures almost 54% of the Israeli population. Patients.All CHS members who purchased an opioid at least once during the 7-year study period (2000-2006). Intervention. There were no interventions in this study. Outcome Measures. The ourcome measures of this study were total OME purchased per year, OME (mg) per capita/per year, and OME (mg) daily dose. Results. There were 119,562 patients who purchased an opioid at least once (3.2% of CHS population). Of them, 57.4% were women, 69.0% aged 65 years and above (average age 56.05 years ± 26.7), 7.7% purchased opioids for more than 12 months, and 81.3% purchased opioids for only 1-4 months. A 96% increase in total OME purchased was found between 2000 and 2006 (from 56.4 kg to 110.6 kg). The annual OME purchased per capita increased from 15.7 mg in the year 2000 to 29.3 mg in 2006. The total number of patients who received at least one opioid prescription increased by 60%, while the growth in total number of CHS members was smaller (4.8%). Conclusions. There is a growing use of opioids at CHS during the 7-year period, a potential indicator of the progress made in improving accessibility and availability of opioids in our health care organization in Israel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-707
Number of pages6
JournalPain Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer pain
  • Chronic pain
  • Consumption
  • Non-cancer pain
  • Opioids
  • Pain relief

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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