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Tranquillisers: 'It's time for MPs to act'

Oldham Evening Chronicle
Wednesday, June 13, 2001

HEALTH Secretary Alan Milburn could help tranquilliser addicts to get better treatment and rehabilitation now the general election is over. That is the view of Mr Barry Haslam, of Uppermill, a veteran campaigner against the use of benzodiazepine drugs.

Mr Haslam spoke out after Oldham East and Saddleworth MP Mr Phil Woolas addressed the Phoenix Mental Health Centre in Oldham. He updated clients on progress so far to get benzos reclassified as Class A drugs (the most dangerous), and changes to the health service to allow tranquilliser addicts to get rehabilitation treatment. He also outlined how the only legal case against the drug manufacturers, being brought by a Scottish man this autumn, is progressing.

Mr Woolas also outlined the tremendous response to the recent "Panorama" television documentary programme on the high cost of addiction to benzodiazepines.

Mr Woolas said: "It's three years since I first visited the Oldham group Tranx and wanted to know more about addicts. We have built a strong body of support across party lines and we are very well known in the Cabinet office and Department of Health. What is required is Government action."


Mr Haslam helped to organise the UK's first international conference on benzos last year and briefed Mr Woolas before he went to the Phoenix centre. He said: "It is now up to MPs to act on this issue and for Government to accept their responsibility and confront the medical profession and drug companies."

MP Mr Phil Woolas has just been appointed a Government whip in the new Government.

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