Coroners raise concerns after 13 liquid morphine deaths since 2013

Consumer

Since 2013, 13 individuals (three men and 10 women) have had liquid morphine identified as contributing to their cause of death, according to an analysis of coroner’s reports.

There have been targeted concerns made in ‘prevention of future deaths’ reports by coroners regarding liquid morphine, specifically the brand Oramorph. They had called for healthcare officials and governments to add more restrictions on six occasions as a result.

“Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, Oramorph 0.2% is a schedule 5 controlled drug, even though other forms of morphine are classed schedule 2“

The liquid version of the drug is utilised to help with severe pain such as with cancer, serious injury or after surgery. Under the Misuse of Drugs Act, Oramorph 0.2% is a schedule 5 controlled drug, even though other forms of morphine are classed schedule 2. Schedule 5 means pharmacies do not have to keep certification for over two years, or conduct identity checks when individuals are picking up their prescription.

Dean of the Faculty of Pain Medicine, John Hughes, said “Although the concentration of the oral morphine solution is relatively low, the 100mL, 300mL and 500mL prescriptible volumes available provide a total dose of 200mg, 600mg and 1000mg which allow for a significant risk of harm, misuse or misappropriation.”

Consultant in complex pain at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group, Cathy Stannard, said “[Oramorph is] particularly problematic because it’s a liquid and people swig it, so that means there’s a lack of control overdose when people are taking it. It’s more of a challenge to measure out the right dose than it is to pop a pill out of a strip.”

In January, the UK administration injected £28 million into conducting Project ADDER (Addiction, Diversion, Disruption, Enforcement and Recovery), a new rigorous method to tackling drug misuse.

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