BACKGROUND: An "epidemic use" of legal opioids in the USA and other countries has been reported in the last 15 years. We have analysed the database of the Italian Ministry of Health regarding the prescription of opioids for pain management to verify the trend of opioids uses in Italy.
METHODS: The amount of opioids prescribed for every single Italian patient in 2013 was anonymously recorded and transformed in daily MED (morphine equivalent dose). We considered every monthly percentage increase of MED during the entire period of chronic therapy for each patient.
RESULTS: Classes of dosage increase for all patients in chronic therapy, distinguished between cancer and non-cancer ones, were created. We deduce that decreases or increases of small proportions prevailed in the observation period.
CONCLUSIONS: The opioids "plague" that is striking the USA is not registered in Italy during the observation period. The reasons might be due to the innovative and effective law 38/2010 and a health care system able to guarantee appropriate prescriptions for major analgesics.