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End of Valium the 'little helper'
Daily Mail · January 30, 2002
by Jenny Hope · Medical Correspondent
VALIUM, one of the world's best-known tranquillisers, has been taken off the market by its maker.
Roche has decided to stop producing the branded version of a drug prescribed to millions who became overwhelmed by the stress of living in the 20th century.
Valium was dubbed the 'housewives' choice' and immortalised by the Rolling Stones as Mother's Little Helper.
Its huge success put Roche in the pharmaceutical super league, where the Swiss based company remains. The drug belongs to the family of benzodiazepines widely prescribed for anxiety and sleep disorders, and as muscle relaxants and anti-convulsants.
There were claims that Valium, introduced in 1963, could lead to years of dependency - with women particularly vulnerable - in patients too anxious to leave their homes.
There were countless reports of careless overprescribing by doctors, and some experts claimed it was as difficult to come off Valium as it was to break a heroin habit.
'Impaired his control'
Comedian Freddie Starr was among those who blamed the pills for him becoming a 'walking zombie' in the early 1980s after he took them to cope with the break-up of his first marriage.
Probably the most notorious Valium addict was John Hinckley, who shot and wounded President Reagan. Psychiatrists at his trial were divided over the part the drug played in the shooting. Some said it could have 'impaired his control'.
But many found Valium a great help when used short-term to cope with a crisis.
The drug is no longer protected by patent and unbranded, generic versions of the drug called diazepam made by other companies will continue to be available.
Roche said last night: 'It is not unusual for research-focused companies like us to discontinue a medicine after its patent expires. This is the case with Valium.'
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