Recent trends in opioid prescriptions in Korea from 2002 to 2015 based on the Korean NHIS-NSC cohort

Joungyoun Kim, Sang Jun Shin, Jihyun Yoon, Hyeong Seop Kim, Jae Woo Lee, Ye Seul Kim, Yonghwan Kim, Hyo Sun You, Hee Taik Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: Opioids are prescribed to treat moderate to severe pain. We investigated recent trends in opioid (morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, and hydromorphone) prescriptions using data from the Korean National Health Insurance Service-National Sample Cohort between 2002 and 2015. METHODS: The morphine milligram equivalent (MME) was calculated to standardize the relative potency of opioids. The number (cases) or amount (MME) of annual opioid prescriptions per 10,000 registrants was computed to analyze trends in opioid prescriptions after age standardization. Joinpoint regression analysis was conducted to calculate the annual percentage change and average annual percentage change (AAPC). RESULTS: The number (cases) of prescriptions per 10,000 registrants increased from 0.07 in 2002 to 41.23 in 2015 (AAPC, 76.0%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 61.6 to 91.7). The MME per 10,000 registrants increased from 15.06 in 2002 to 40,727.80 in 2015 (AAPC, 103.0%; 95% CI, 78.2 to 131.3). The highest AAPC of prescriptions and MME per 10,000 registrants were observed in the elderly (60-69 years) and in patients treated at general hospitals. Fentanyl prescriptions increased most rapidly among the 4 opioids. CONCLUSIONS: Consumption of opioids greatly increased in Korea over the 14-year study period.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022029
JournalEpidemiology and health
StatePublished - 2022


  • Analgesics
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydromorphone
  • Morphine
  • Opioid
  • Oxycodone


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