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Changes in the Norwegian drug reimbursement system in 2008 included the establishment of a new reimbursement code (-71) which authorises coverage of expenditures for potentially addictive drugs in patients with severe, predominantly non-malignant, chronic pain. This reform has hitherto not been evaluated. We assessed national data on drug reimbursements in accordance with code -71 for the period 2008-2011, and anonymised copies of all confirmation letters granting reimbursements according to code -71 in Central Norway (three counties) for 2010. Approximately 1300 individual applicants' gender and age, diagnosis, potentially addictive drug applied for, drug dose, and identity and specialty of the prescribing physician, were recorded. From the time of establishment, reimbursement code -71 has been utilised by an increasing number of individuals, encompassing close to 10,000 subjects in 3rd quarter 2011. Almost one-third of the approved applications were for pregabalin, and the rest were for various opioids. The diagnoses were most often derived from the musculoskeletal and nervous systems, and were often nonspecific. A considerable number of treatment regimens were not in accordance with current principles for the management of chronic non-malignant pain, and drug doses were at times remarkably high. Aspects of this drug reimbursement regulation should be closely monitored, and may be in need of changes.


Marthe Sæther Persheim, Arne Helland, Olav Spigset, Lars Slørdal. Potentially addictive drugs on reimbursable prescription for chronic severe pain]. Tidsskrift for den Norske lægeforening : tidsskrift for praktisk medicin, ny række. 2013 Jan 22;133(2):150-4

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PMID: 23344597

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