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Prescription drug addiction: government launches investigation

Public Health England will review prescription of medicines including opioid painkillers

The government has ordered an investigation into the growing problem of addiction to prescription drugs such as painkillers and medicines to treat anxiety and insomnia.

Steve Brine, the public health minister, has acted after it emerged that one in 11 (8.9%) patients treated by the NHS in England last year was given a drug that can induce dependency.

Fears about excessive prescription has also been boosted more than 100% rise in the number of antidepressants prescribed in England over the last decade and the fact antidepressants prescribed in England over the last decade and the fact that prescription of addictive medicines has increased by 3% over the last five years.

Full story – https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/24/prescription-drug-addiction-government-launches-investigation

The Doctor Who Gave Up Drugs

Two years ago, Dr Chris van Tulleken discovered we are taking more prescription drugs than ever before – a billion prescriptions a year in the UK. He worked with a GP surgery to get patients to try drug-free alternatives – with amazing results.

Now he is on a new mission – to understand why we are giving British kids over three times more medication than we were 40 years ago. As a new dad, Chris has a very personal motivation to explore the reasons behind this explosion in medication. In the series he sets about finding alternatives which might be just as, or even more, effective than drugs. He tackles the shocking rise in teens taking anti-depressants by testing if wilderness therapy can work where the drugs are failing. He investigates why parents are giving out so many over-the-counter meds when they may not be always necessary, and he helps hyperactive kids replace their drugs with mindful meditation.

He also digs deeper into the forces driving the over-medication of UK children and asks whether the drug industry itself could be playing a part in the rise. In 2016 we spent a staggering £64 million on one brand of children’s liquid paracetamol. Chris meets a self-confessed fan who reveals she has bought over 25 bottles in less than two years! As a new dad, Chris doesn’t blame vulnerable parents. His research reveals a pharmaceutical industry that helps create a culture which, he believes, encourages parents to unnecessarily use liquid paracetamol. At a family fair in Bristol, Chris creates a surprising stunt to show Britain’s parents when not to give liquid paracetamol and make sure they don’t waste their hard-earned money giving children drugs they don’t need.

One of the other areas where medication rates have increased the most is treating kids’ behavioural problems – prescription meds for ADHD have increased by 800 per cent since 2000. These drugs do help some symptoms of ADHD in the short-term, but side effects can include loss of hunger, changes in personality and stunted growth. Chris joins a group of hyperactive children as they attempt the impossible – an intense course of stillness and mindful meditation as an alternative to the meds. As the families go on transformative and emotional journeys, they discover, with poignant results, that ADHD remedies do not always have to come in a pill.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b4jjq3

1 in 7

On the 9th May 2018 Michelle Ballantyne, MSP, raised the important issue of antidepressant overuse in the Scottish Parliament:

This was the first part of the response made by the Minister for Mental Health:

As an NHS doctor who has worked as a psychiatrist  in Scotland for over 25 years I am not reassured by this response by the Minister for Mental Health. I have highlighted three aspects of this response which I wish to briefly consider:

CLINICAL DECISION:
I agree that prescribing should follow the principles of  informed consent and shared decision making.  However informed consent will not be possible if the information that doctors base prescribing on follows marketing and promotion rather than independent, and more objective, continuing medical education.  The Scottish Government has consulted the public on the need for mandatory declarations of financial competing interests for doctors and academics in an open, central register. The public made it clear that this was what they felt was necessary. More than two years on from this consultation and there is no such system ensuring the transparency that is necessary for informed decision making between clinician and patient.

GOOD EVIDENCE:
Where is the “Good Evidence” to support the prescribing of antidepressants to 1 in 7 Scots, a significant proportion of whom are taking antidepressants long term or indefinitely? I have, like others, asked the Scottish Government to provide this “good evidence” but have been provided with no evidence to support such mass prescribing of  long term antidepressants.

APPROPRIATELY:
Currently there is a petition being considered by the Scottish Parliament in relation to potential problems with prescribed medications. This has highlighted that an important aspect which should determine the “appropriateness” of prescribing, namely the experience of people who are taking medications, has not been given the weight that it should.

Full Article

Antidepressants (Overuse)

Xanax WARNING: New prescription drugs craze is a deadly game of roulette

THE terrifying lottery facing thrill-seeking teenagers who buy the prescription drug Xanax online is today exposed by the Daily Express. Our investigation highlights the potentially deadly risk youngsters face when trying to obtain the highly addictive anti-anxiety medication for recreational use.

One site offering Xanax for sale in fact supplied us with Tramadol, an equally controversial opiate painkiller linked to hundreds of deaths.

MP Bambos Charalambous said: “These young people don’t know what they are putting into their bodies. They have no control at all.”

Rick Bradley, of the anti-abuse charity Addaction, said: “Purchases are either on the clean [legitimate] or the dark web or on the street. “The clean web is safer because it will be dispensed with information which might enable the user to take the drug more safely.”

Mr Bradley, who also sits on a new substances watchdog for Public Health England, added: “But that doesn’t make it safe at all.”