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Chronic pain costing Australia more than 50 bln USD annually: report

2019-04-04 10:15

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CANBERRA, April 4 (Xinhua) -- Chronic pain is costing the Australian economy 73.2 billion Australian dollars (52.1 billion U.S. dollars) every year, a report has revealed.

According to the report by consultancy firm Deloitte, which was released on Thursday, more than 3.2 million Australians are living with chronic pain.

It found that the total financial cost of that pain was 48.3 billion AUD (34.3 billion USD) in lost productivity, 12.7 billion AUD (9.03 billion USD) in financial costs such as home modifications and 12.2 billion AUD (8.6 billion USD) in costs to the health system.

Of those suffering from chronic pain, 70 percent were of working age and 56 percent said pain restricted their daily activities.

The report, commissioned by advocacy group Painaustralia, warned that General Practitioners (GPs) were over-prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain, which in turn was leading to addiction and overdoses.

"These are numbers which we simply can't ignore," Painaustralia chief executive Carol Bennett told The Guardian Australia.

"In a country like Australia we must do better for the millions of people in pain. Anything less is unacceptable."

There were estimated 823 deaths in Australia as a result of opioid overdoses in 2017-18, making them more deadly than popular illicit drugs such as heroin or cocaine.

Painaustralia called for the government to establish a 45 million AUD (32.03 million USD) national training course to teach GPs how to better treat chronic pain, a measure Deloitte found would reduce overdose-related costs by 200 million AUD (142.3 million USD).

In response to the report, Health Minister Greg Hunt will announce 6.8 million AUD (4.84 million USD) in funding for pain treatment and education about opioids and chronic pain.

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