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Oldham Chronicle
April 27, 2007

HOPES of a public inquiry into the dangers of tranquilliser addiction have been dashed by a Commons committee chairman.

Uppermill campaigner Barry Haslam had asked the Health Select Committee to stage the inquiry, and was backed by a cross-party group which included Jim Dobbin, the MP for Heywood and Middleton.

But the committee chairman has now told him other issues are more pressing.

Kevin Barron, the Labour MP for Rother Valley, said: "The issue of benzodiazepine addiction is a serious one and I have discussed it with my colleagues.

"There is a large number of pressing issues affecting the health service at this time and, unfortunately, it is not possible for us to undertake an inquiry."

An angry Mr Haslam, who weaned himself off his own addiction to legally prescribed Ativan 10 years ago, said: "They can't take it seriously, because they are washing their hands of it.

"They should say they don't want to tackle it - or that they can't because the issue is so big - and just draw a line in the sand. But they won't because they are gutless cowards."

Mr Barron said there was an inquiry in 2005, which raised the issue of lack of treatment and rehabilitation facilities for addicts of legal drugs. He said it also issued recommendations to limit marketing by drugs companies and prevent over prescribing.

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