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H O U S E   OF   C O M M O N S

APPGITA - All Party Parliamentary Group for
Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction

House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA

Parliamentary Questions by The Earl of Sandwich,
Vice-Chair of APPGITA, June 17, 2010

The Earl of Sandwich to ask Her Majesty’s Government:

  1. why information sheets accompanying prescribed benzodiazepines do not carry warnings of potential withdrawal syndromes associated with its use. HL591

  2. what assistance they have given to the Council for Information on Tranquillisers, Antidepressants, and Painkillers, and to other organisations helping those suffering from addiction to and withdrawal from prescribed drugs. HL592

  3. further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 23 March (WA 279–80), whether they will publish the summaries or reports of the 15 grant-aided scientific studies on benzodiazepines and of the five further studies carried out after 1996. HL593

  4. how they are consulting general practitioners and the medical profession as part of their review of the causes and effects of benzodiazepine addiction and withdrawal. HL594

Email The Earl of Sandwich

On June 24, 2010 Lord Howe replied as follows:

1. There are a number of benzodiazepine medicines authorised and marketed in the United Kingdom. Information supporting the safe use of medicines is provided to doctors and pharmacists in the Summary of Product Characteristics and for patients in the patient information leaflet. Patient information leaflets of prescribed medicines are intended to supplement the advice given to patients by health professionals.

The patient information leaflets for benzodiazepines available in the UK contain clear advice about the recommended duration of treatment, which should not be for more than two to four weeks, and that treatment should be stopped gradually as benzodiazepines may cause side effects on abrupt withdrawal. The term "withdrawal syndrome" does not appear in patient information leaflets but there are references to "withdrawal reactions or symptoms".

2 & 4. In looking at the problem of addiction to prescription and over-the-counter medicines, the Department has commissioned three reviews:

We expect this information to be available by the end of the year. We will then share this evidence with interested organisations and individuals, including doctors, to inform discussions about future policies and services.

Email Jim Dobbin MP
Email Mick Behan

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