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Waikato Times, New Zealand
December 13, 2000
by Rosemarie North

Doctors should take greater care prescribing sedatives like Valium and Halcion, a Waikato health advocate says.

Waikato Patients' Rights Advocate Anna de Jonge told the Beat the Benzos Conference in the UK last month there should be stricter controls for these and other benzodiazepines, once known as "mother's little helpers".

About 100 Waikato people are being treated by Health Waikato for problems with benzo use.

Elizabeth Taylor, Liza Minnelli, Paula Yates, Marc Almond, Freddie Starr and Judy Garland are some of the celebrities the UK Sunday Express claims have had trouble with benzos.

Ms de Jonge told the Times "benzos" were addictive, could cause panic attacks and palpitations, and bring on epileptic fits.

"It's really absurd to prescribe drugs that make people sick.

"If people knew what was going to happen they wouldn't take them. Don't start it," she said.

The drugs, intended for short-term use for anxiety and stress, included Ativan, diazepam and Mogadon.

Since last year, doctors have had to record prescriptions of the 76 benzos but Ms de Jonge said she was lobbying for even tighter control.

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