Prepared with the assistance of the Drug Utilization Sub-Committee of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee

The article on palliative care by Professor Ravenscroft on page 66 recommends that morphine mixture be used first when patients require analgesics for severe pain. However, drug utilisation figures suggest that the majority of patients are treated with the slow-release preparations.

The dispensed price of controlled-release morphine for a patient requiring 30 mg twice a day is approximately $27 for 10 days' supply. If the patient were given morphine as 10 mg/mL oral solution, one prescription of 200 mL would provide about one month's supply at a dispensed price of approximately $20.40. (Dispensed prices are based on the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits May 1996.)

These and other interesting figures will be included in the next edition of Australian Statistics on Medicines which is planned for publication later this year. Telephone (06) 289 7293 for details.