HC Deb 21 January 1986 vol 90 cc132-3W
Mr. Wareing

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give grant aid to professional or educational bodies for the purpose of establishing training courses for general practitioners on the problems of longterm use of tranquillisers.

Mr. Whitney

Consideration of prescribing practice of all drugs including the long term use of minor tranquillisers is part of undergraduate and postgraduate medical training.

Comprehensive advice on the prescribing of minor tranquillisers is given in the British National Formulary, which is issued free, bi-annually to all general practitioners. Guidelines on good clinical practice in the treatment of drug misuse, which have been issued to all doctors, include advice on the treatment of people with problems arising from long term use of minor tranquillisers. Advice through other medical channels warns of the addictive potential of these drugs. The basic information necessary to enable help to be given to this group has thus been made available to all doctors. There is increasing awareness among general practitioners about the problems.

The annual number of prescriptions for this group of drugs has been falling since 1979.

Mr. Wareing

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services which organisations, dealing with combating tranquilliser addiction, have applied for funding from his Department in the last 12 months; and how many of these applications were successful.

Mr. Whitney

No such applications have been received in the last 12 months. However, since 1983 the Department has funded from the drugs initiative the following organisations which cater specifically for the needs of people with problems arising from long term use of minor tranquillisers:

Mr. Hayhoe

There are no special procedures which apply only to the safety of benzodiazepines. The safety of all licensed medicines is kept under constant surveillance by the Committee on Safety of Medicines. The committee's principal source of information about safety is yellow card reports by doctors of suspected adverse reactions to medicines. In February 1981, in its fact sheet "Current Problems", the committee made a special request to doctors for reports of adverse reactions to benzodiazepines. On receipt each report is evaluated for the committee by its medical secretariat.

If a member of the public has a complaint on tranquillisers which is concerned with safety he should bring the matter to the attention of his doctor so that he can consider whether he should send a report to the Committee on Safety of Medicines. Subsequent action will depend on the nature of the complaint. If the hon. Member has a specific problem in mind I should be grateful if he would write to me about it.

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