Access to opioid analgesics in Poland - a brief analysis of the current regulation of opioids following recent legislative changes

Iga Pawlowska, Aleksandra Modlinska, Leszek Pawlowski*, Natalia Krzyzaniak, Ivan Kocic, Monika Lichodziejewska-Niemierko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


The use of opioid analgesics commonly results in tolerance, dependence and addiction, requiring their classification as controlled substances. This, in turn, creates access barriers and increases the complexity of treating severe pain. The aim of this study was to provide an insight into the current legal impediments that limit opioid access in Poland, subsequent to recent changes in Polish legislation. Two methods were utilized. First, Polish legal acts relating to controlled medicines were analyzed. Following this, a short e-mail survey was distributed to pharmacy inspectors to identify the percent of community pharmacies that dispense opioid analgesics. There are a range of stringent requirements that control the use of opioids, and must be adhered to by medical staff. In Poland, every registered physician is authorized to prescribe opioids, and 90% of pharmacies must dispense these drugs. With regards to prescribing, the single or daily doses of opioids are not limited, and the amount of controlled medicine prescribed on one prescription is limited to 90 days use, in accordance with the dosage regimen. An opioid-based prescription is valid for 30 days. Other restrictions to opioid access are related to the storage, dispensing, usage and availability of controlled medicines. The barriers identified may limit access to opioids on one hand, but on the other, the changes in Polish law have alleviated the requirements for prescribing these medicines. Therefore, it is important to achieve an acceptable balance between the restrictions imposed on opioids usage and their adequate clinical application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-548
Number of pages4
JournalActa Poloniae Pharmaceutica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 6 Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


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