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Benzodiazepines: Misuse

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN HL9971, tabled on 4 September 2018

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will establish a public inquiry into the harmful effects of prescribed benzodiazepine drug dependence over the last 50 years.

Answered on

17 September 2018

The Parliamentary under Secretary of State (Steve Brine MP) commissioned Public Health England (PHE) to review the evidence for dependence on, and withdrawal from, prescribed medicines. The review was launched in January 2018 and is due to report in spring 2019 and we await its findings. It is the responsibility of local authorities to commission services, such as the provision of withdrawal centres for addiction to prescribed medicines, to meet assessed local need. The Government currently has no plans to increase the number of these centres.

The Government has no plans to introduce a separate national helpline to support people affected by prescribed drug dependence. Help and advice on prescribed drug dependence is already available from the 111 helpline or NHS Choices. People who feel that they might be dependent on either prescribed or over the counter medicines should seek help from a health professional in the first instance (such as a general practitioner or pharmacist).

PHE’s review includes prescribed benzodiazepine drug dependence but will not consider evidence further back than 10 years ago. There are no plans to establish a public inquiry into prescribed benzodiazepine drug dependence.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care