Prescription drug addiction review launched

AN independent review into the growing problem of addiction to prescription drugs has been announced by the Government as statistics show that one patient in eleven was a prescribed an addictive drug last year.

The review will be undertaken by Public Health England (PHE) and will address a number of issues, including why the prescribing of addictive medicines has increased 3 per cent over five years and how 8.9 per cent of patients were prescribed such drugs last year. It will also look at antidepressant prescriptions in England which have more than doubled in the past 10 years and a recent survey that found that 7.6 per cent of adults had taken a prescription-only painkiller not prescribed to them.

PHE will assess the scale of the problem, the harms caused by dependence and withdrawal, how they may be prevented and the best way to respond. The review will cover benzodiazepines and z-drugs, pregabalin and gabapentin, opioid pain medicines and antidepressants. While anti-depressants are generally not recognised to be dependence forming, some patients experience difficulties when they try to stop taking them.

The findings of the review will be published in early 2019.

Public Health Minister, Steve Brine said: "We know this is a huge problem in other countries like the United States—and we must absolutely make sure it doesn’t become one here.

"While we are world-leading in offering free treatment for addiction, we cannot be complacent—that’s why I’ve asked PHE to conduct this review."