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Global Toxicosurveillance Network (GTNet): characterizing prescription opioid exposures reported to European Poison Centres

Author/s Green JL, Martinez EM, Bucher-Bartelson B, Desel H, Milanesi G, Sesana F, de Vries I, Kupferschmidt H, Thomas SHL, Thompson JP, McBride KE, Dart RC
Year 2014
Type of publication Conference proceeding

Objective: To describe patient and exposure characteristics for prescription opioids reported to poison centers (PC) in Göttingen, Germany; Milan, Italy; Netherlands; Switzerland; and the United Kingdom (UK).

Methods: Analyses include case characteristics by country for exposures reported in 2012 for buprenorphine, methadone, and oxycodone. Comparisons include age, gender, exposure reason, route, and drug. The analysis for exposure reason excludes The Netherlands as they began reporting exposure reason in 2013. Exposure reasons consisted of intentional (suicide), intentional (misuse, abuse, or diversion), and unintentional. Routes are categorized by oral or non-oral. Significant p-values indicate country differences in the distribution of the variable.

Results: There was no difference in gender (p = .7740) or age (p = .1225) across countries. There was a significant difference across countries for exposure reason (p < 0.0001), route (p < 0.0001), and drug (p < 0.0001). Mean age for all PCs was 39.8 (SD = 18.9) years, 58% were male. In all countries, there were more calls for exposures in males and the mean age was approximately 40 years. Buprenorphine had the lowest per cent of calls in all countries; however, drug availability may also vary across countries. The route (oral vs. non-oral) was significantly different across countries.

Conclusion: While the PC methods vary between countries, the case characteristics of exposures to oxycodone, buprenorphine, and methadone as reported to poison centers within European countries are not different. However, the drug the patient was exposed to, the route, and the reason were statistically significantly different by country.

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