Does the sale of pharmaceutical drugs in Australia vary by geographical location?

Research conducted on pharmaceutical opioid sales data found substantial jurisdictional variation in utilisation rates. The map below shows opioid utilisation data for Australia in 2013, with the darker shaded areas indicating higher rates of use.

In general, major cities had lower levels of opioid utilisation than more remote areas. The highest rates of opioid use per person were found in Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland. The lowest rate of use was in the Northern Territory.

Source: Degenhardt, L., Gisev, N., Cama, E., Nielsen, S., Larance, B., & Bruno, R. (2016). The extent and correlates of community-based pharmaceutical opioid utilisation in Australia. Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety; 25: 521–538.

† The map is broken down by 2011 Statistical Local Areas (SLAs). The data presented here are measured in oral morphine equivalent (OME) milligrams per person, and include all pharmaceutical opioid purchases made through pharmaceutical wholesalers and manufacturers who sold directly to pharmacies in the 2013 calendar year, representing over 94% coverage of the Australian market. This study focused on opioids sold in the community and excluded opioids supplied in hospitals.