Steve Brine MP

for Winchester & Chandler's Ford

25 JAN 2018

Steve Brine launches landmark review into prescription drug addiction

The growing problem of dependence and addiction to prescription drugs is set to form the basis of an independent review announced today by the Government, as stark figures show one patient in eleven was prescribed a potentially addictive drug last year alone.

Public Health Minister, Steve Brine, has commissioned Public Health England (PHE) to undertake a thorough evidence review along with recommendations on how to address it.

The review will consider why prescribing of addictive medicines has increased 3% over five years, and why one patient in eleven (8.9%) is prescribed one of these medicines. In addition, it will look at why antidepressant prescriptions in England have more than doubled in the past 10 years, and look into a recent survey which also found that 7.6% 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.

Many people benefit from medicines that treat problems like pain, anxiety and insomnia. But some of these medicines are highly addictive and result in dependence and withdrawal.

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.

"PHE has an excellent track record in robust evidence reviews, and this will help us understand the scale of this issue here and how we can address it."

Director of Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco at PHE, Rosanna O'Connor, said: "It is of real concern that so many people find themselves dependent on or suffering withdrawal symptoms from prescribed medicines. Many will have sought help for a health problem only to find later on they have a further obstacle to overcome.

"PHE very much welcomes this opportunity as it is vital that we have the best understanding possible of how widespread these problems are, the harms they cause, as well as the most effective ways to prevent them happening and how best to help those in need."

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. For some, the symptoms of this 'discontinuation syndrome' are severe.

It will be a broad, public-health focused review of commonly prescribed medicines for adults who have pain (excluding pain from cancer), anxiety, insomnia or depression. Patient and prescription data, peer-reviewed published evidence and guidance will be analysed to determine, prevalence and prescribing, the nature and likely causes of dependence or withdrawal, and effective prevention and treatment responses.

PHE will also consult with health professionals and people affected by the problem, including those supporting others to overcome it. The findings of the review will be published in early 2019.

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Upcoming Business – Commons: Select Committee (22 May 2018)
Health and Social Care: Childhood obesity. 2:30 pm; The Wilson Room, Portcullis House
Witnesses: Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive Dr Alison Tedstone, National Director, Public Health England Richard Sangster, Head of Obesity Policy Steve Brine MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health and Social Care Margot James MP, Minister of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Written Answers — Department of Health and Social Care: Malnutrition and Obesity (18 May 2018)
Steve Brine: To help tackle malnutrition in acute and community settings, NHS England published guidance on ‘Commissioning excellent nutrition and hydration’ in October 2015. The implementation of this guidance is a matter for the local National Health Service. The guidance is available at the following link: https://www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/nut-hyd/ General practitioners and other...

Written Answers — Department of Health and Social Care: Breast Cancer: Screening (18 May 2018)
Steve Brine: No estimate has been made to date of the cost to the public purse for compensation for the next of kin of women who may have subsequently died of breast cancer due to a missed scan. Public Health England will be undertaking a case review over the coming months.


Contact Steve Brine in Westminster

Call your MP in his Commons office on 0207 219 7189 or email steve.brine.mp@parliament.uk

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