Country Correspondent: Paul Dourgnon
In October 2018, the French Ministry of Health convened a meeting to assess the extent of misuse of opioid pain medications and consider potential solutions. At the same time, the French Observatory of Analgesic Medicines, a new agency set up in November 2017, released data showing that the number of opioid overdoses among chronic-pain patients in France exceeded deaths among illicit drug users. During the past 10 years, the number of prescriptions for strong painkillers, including fentanyl and morphine, have more than doubled in France, while hospitalizations for overdoses have increased by 67 percent and overdose fatalities by 46 percent. Experts point to the need to invest in more pain treatment units and convince health authorities that France is facing a public health crisis that needs to be addressed.