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Modelling Supply Rates of High-Strength Oxycodone Across New South Wales

NCJ Number
Deborah Bradford; Laura Rodwell
Date Published
January 2011
12 pages
This research developed a statistical methodology for identifying local-government areas (LGAs) of New South Wales (Australia) with aberrantly high supply levels of 80 mg oxycodone controlled-release (CR) tablets, a prescription medicine that is currently a target for illicit diversion in Australia.
The analysis showed that statistically controlling for demographic, morbidity, and mortality factors associated with legitimate medical use of 80 mg oxycodone CR tablets identified a number of LGAs across New South Wales (NSW) with supply levels that were significantly above the rest of the State. The final statistical model that took into account population-level differences identified mainly regional areas as those with the highest level of supply of this medicine. Although more in-depth analysis by investigators from Pharmaceutical Services is necessary in order to determine whether any inappropriate prescribing and illicit diversion of opioids is occurring in these areas, these findings indicate the importance of controlling for relevant population characteristics when evaluating trends in supply of this medicine. The benefit of the proposed approach is that it provides more accurate indications of aberrantly high supply levels than simple analyses that examine the raw volume of tablets supplied to a particular area. It also has the potential to reduce both the time and resources currently required for investigators to monitor supply rates across NSW. The study drew upon administrative data from the National Drug Control System, which records movement of Schedule 8 medicines between licensed wholesalers and health-related premises. This study restricted the analyses to pharmacies. The dependent variable and explanatory variables are described. 4 tables, 2 figures, and 29 references