NPA responds to Public Health England’s review of prescribed drugs dependency

10 Sep 2019

The National Pharmacy Association (NPA) welcomes the evidence review of dependence and withdrawal problems associated with commonly prescribed medicines, published today by Public Health England.

NPA’s Head of Advice and Support Services, Jasmine Shah, said:

“We welcome this report, which highlights the urgent need to address many aspects of overmedication and addiction to prescription medicines.  Medicines help so many people, but they do have the power to harm as well as to heal.

“Community pharmacists have an important role to play in patient education about the safe and appropriate use of prescription medicines, including pain killers and anti-depressants.  Pharmacists can also help to identify cases where people are at risk of drug dependency.

The Prescribed Medicines Review makes recommendations for better monitoring, treatment and support for patients, with a particular focus on benzodiazepines, Z-drugs, gabapentinoids, opioid pain medicines and antidepressants.

1 in 4 adults had been prescribed at least one of these classes of medicines in the year up to March 2018.  Half of those receiving a prescription for these medicines had been continuously prescribed for a least the previous 12 months. Long term prescribing can result in dependence or withdrawal problems.