For immediate release
10 September 2019
APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence welcomes groundbreaking report by Public Health England on prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence (APPG-PDD) today welcomes the publication of a report by Public Health England which recognises for the first time the scale of prescribing of drugs that can cause dependence and withdrawal. The report shows that one in four adults in England has been prescribed a benzodiazepine, z-drug, gabapentinoid, opioid or antidepressant in the past twelve months, with up to a third of these receiving a prescription for at least three years. Prescribing rates are significantly higher in deprived areas of England, while women and older adults have the highest rates.
The report builds on four years of work by the APPG-PDD, which has focused on this issue since being founded in 2015. The APPG-PDD also recognises the input and support of other organisations over this period, including patients, researchers, charities, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, NICE and the Daily Mail (who has run a high profile media campaign).
The APPG-PDD is particularly pleased to note that the report contains recommendations which the APPG has long campaigned for, including:
- A 24 hour national helpline and associated website to provide expert advice and support, also acting as a resource for patients and doctors to support shared decision-making
- Updated clinical guidance as well as new guidance on management of dependence and withdrawal, and improved training to ensure clinicians adhere to this guidance
- Provision of better information to patients about risks and benefits of these medicines, as well as alternatives such as social prescribing
- Further research into the nature and severity of withdrawal, and the treatment of dependence and withdrawal, caused by prescribed drugs
- Appropriate support from the NHS for patients experiencing dependence and withdrawal problems, including dedicated support services
- Review of the training and educational resources for practitioners in relation to prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal
Responding to the report, Sir Oliver Letwin, chair of the APPG-PDD, commented: ‘Prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal can have terrible consequences for the lives of many patients who simply follow their doctor’s instructions. This report from Public Health England reveals the disturbing scale of the problem in this country and makes several urgent recommendations, including the setting up of a national 24 hour helpline and website, the provision of dedicated support services for those who need help, as well as the development of new clinical guidelines and training for doctors. The APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence supports these recommendations and will now be working to help ensure their implementation.’