NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde Area Drug and Therapeutics Committee
Greater Glasgow and Clyde Medicines
Medicines Update

Oxycodone safety

The Controlled Drugs Accountable Officers’ Network for Scotland has published an updated on safe use of oxycodone. Use of oxycodone is restricted in the NHSGGC Formulary to patients in whom morphine is ineffective or not tolerated. Examination of Datix shows a significant number of incidents involving oxycodone within NHSGGC. Fortunately, only 15% are classed as being of moderate or major severity.


The key messages are:

  • Confirm the formulation and dose is appropriate
    • There are significant risks of overdose when a fast acting product of short duration is used in error for the slow acting, longer duration products.
    • Currently, the long acting oxycodone products are all tablets; the short acting products are all capsules.
  • Confirm the use of any oxycodone high strength or concentrate product is appropriate. There are significant risks of overdose if a high strength, concentrate product is used in error for a normal strength product.
    • See our previous case study for an example of where the wrong choice of a concentrated product led to a significant incident involving a patient at end of life.


The NHSGGC Formulary products of choice are Longtec® modified release tablets and generic oxycodone capsules. Use of these products will have no effect on clinical care, but will result in reduced spending on oxycodone throughout NHSGGC.