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Victims' fears not dismissed by professor
who is leader in the field

Oldham Evening Chronicle, Thursday, May 17, 2001
by Janice Barker

A SADDLEWORTH man who suffered lasting damage from a tranquilliser addiction, believes the drugs contain neuro-toxic poisons found in sheep dip or cleaning fluids.

Mr Barry Haslam has called for a public inquiry and for benzopdiazepines which are prescribed by family doctors, to be recategorised as Class A drugs, alongside heroin and cocaine. He says his research shows they were devised by a chemist who first worked on textile dyes. And the symptoms suffered by people addicted to benzodiazepines are strikingly similar to those in people exposed to organic solvents and organo-phosphates, he says.


Mr Haslam has written to Professor Heather Ashton, who heads the School of Neurosciences at Newcastle University with his theory. The professor, who is a contributor to a textbook on adverse drug reactions and a recognised expert in the field, says that suspicions have certainly been raised.

She told him: "Organic solvents, as well as organo-phosphates, are well known to be capable of causing brain damage. The fact that Librium is chemically related to some dyes, and also insecticides, does not mean that it causes the same damage, but I agree that it raises suspicions."

Mr Haslam, from School Street, Uppermill, was addicted to another tranquilliser, Ativan for ten years, and suffered brain and central nervous system damage after he weaned himself off the drug. He has since campaigned tirelessly for better treatment for involuntary addicts, and has researched the drugs widely.


He discovered that a chemist, Leo Sternbach who worked for the drug-company which launched Librium in 1960, had previously studied potential dyes. Sternbach went back to his original research before discovering the benzodiazepine compound used in Librium, which was produced for its sedative, but non hypnotic, effects.

Mr Haslam then found that organic solvents are also used in the production of textiles and dyes as well as pharmaceuticals. He now plans to ask a friend who is a chemist working in the textile industry to help him with more research. He said: "I may be oversimplifying the matter but to me the link is blatantly obvious and I knew I was on the right lines.

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