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GPs 'knowingly prescribing drugs to addicted patients'

By jon-q, Jul 27, 2011 | | |
  1. jon-q
    GPs are continuing to prescribe painkillers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills to those they think might be abusing them, found the Family Doctor Association (FDA).

    They believe GPs must be firmer and address the situation with individuals if matters are getting out of hand.

    Tens of thousands of people across Britain are thought to be addicted to prescription and over-the-counter drugs, according to an official report, although the number may be higher still.

    However, the FDA believes that many doctors are ignoring the seriousness of the situation.

    In a survey of 197 GPs, it found 80 per cent admitted to prescribing to patients who might be addicted.

    More than half (53 per cent) said they were worried about prescription drug abuse in their surgery catchment, while half (50 per cent) also believed there were times when patients had sold on their prescriptions for cash.

    Dr Peter Swinyard, chairman of the FDA, said GPs sometimes made "misguided" decisions that resulted in them fuelling addictions.
    He told the BBC: "Our simple concern is the patient - nothing else matters.

    "But sometimes, somewhat misguidedly, we don't do the right thing."

    One patient explained how lax surgery methods were for keeping track of how much drugs she was being prescribed.

    Rachel Smith, 35, from Malvern in Worcestershire, said she became addicted within a month of being prescribed Prozac, an anti-depressant, and diazepam, a sedative.

    Describing why she got addicted in the first place, she said: "I wanted to block out what I was feeling. It helped me escape my own head. And where did it lead? To further addiction."

    Soon a week's prescription was lasting her only two days, but she found getting hold of more was not a problem.

    She said: "I would ring up the doctor and say I'd lost the prescription and then I'd do the same again.

    "No-one said anything because it was an automated system."

    Ms Smith described addiction as "a really fast downhill spiral".

    In May the National Treatment Agency for Substance Abuse published a report estimating that a sixth of the 200,000 or so people being seen for drug abuse - some 32,500 individuals - had a problem with prescription or over-the-counter medicines.

    For most, it was a secondary concern to addiction to illegal drugs, but for 2,000 it was their primary problem.

    Many more are likely to be addicted to prescription medicines without seeking help.

    "The numbers in treatment reporting problems in relation to prescription only and over-the-counter medicines may be under representative of the wider population of people who experience problem with these medicines," it noted.

    The agency also warned there were "conflicting messages" about where responsibility for tackling prescription abuse lay.

    Dr Swinyard said research was needed to "prove to GPs" that there was a problem.

    Stephen Adams
    The Telegraph 26th July 2011


  1. jon-q
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