CROP – The Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing

Through implementation of The Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (CROP) project the AHSN NENC aimed to assist general practices across the North East and North Cumbria with reducing opioid prescribing, improving patient care and safety across the region.

Opioid Prescribing

Opioid medicines, such as codeine or morphine, are effective and work well for short-lived pain (e.g. following injury) and cancer pain. They are, however, known to be ineffective for chronic pain and, when used long-term (90+ days), are linked with increased risk of dependence and overdose.  Inappropriate limiting of these medicines may increase the risk of harm, including the risk of suicide, and may lead some people to seek medicines from illicit or less-regulated sources.

The North East and North Cumbria have the highest rate of opioid prescribing in England and are more likely to be prescribed these medicines for period of over six or twelve months than in all other regions.


CROP – The Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing

The aim of the Campaign to Reduce Opioid Prescribing (CROP) was to promote the review of opioid analgesic prescribing within primary care and to support practices with this work.

The programme essentially replicated a successful campaign undertaken in the Yorks & Humber Region (Alderson et al 20201; Wood et al, 2020) and their support, together with support from North East Commissioning Service (NECS), was commissioned in the production of practice reports.

Practices received seven bi-monthly updates on the prescribing of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain within their practice. The reports were based on searches, designed to understand how many prescriptions of both strong and weak opioids are dispensed.

The objective was to encourage a reduction in inappropriate prescribing of high dose opiate prescribing for non-cancer pain. In addition, this iteration of CROP reports included coverage of gabapentinoids as it was felt that these substances were often co-prescribed with opiates and were similarly considered likely to cause issues in the same patient groups.

Programme Resources

Download CROP Qualitative Report

Mark’s Story

In this video, Mark shares how opioids have affected his life and his experience of working with his Pharmacist to reduce his pain medication.

In this extended video, Mark shares more of his experience in conversation with Pharmacist, Samantha O’Connell:

CROP report

A quantitative analysis of data from Open Prescribing forms the basis of this CROP report.

For further information about the CROP project, please contact: [email protected]