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Trends and sex differences in prescription opioid deaths in British Columbia, Canada


Increasing rates of prescription opioid-related death are well documented in Ontario (ON) but little is known about prescription opioid-related harms in other Canadian provinces. Using administrative mortality data from 2004 to 2013, we found that rates of prescription opioid-related death in British Columbia (BC) were higher but more stable than published rates for ON over the same period. Methadone was involved in approximately 25% of the prescription opioid-related deaths in BC. The majority of prescription opioid-related deaths among men and women were unintentional. Men had higher overall rates of prescription opioid-related deaths in BC; women had lower rates of prescription opioid-related deaths but a larger proportion of them were suicides. Efforts to reduce prescription opioid-related deaths must consider sex differences in patterns of prescription opioid use and associated harms.

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