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Painkiller restrictions urged

21st January 2009

A parliamentary report has ruled that painkillers containing codeine should be sold in smaller packets and available only after consultation.

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A cross-party inquiry into painkiller dependency also wants better monitoring of patients on prescription painkillers and anti-depressant tablets.

The All Party Parliamentary Drug Misuse Group wants to see GPs monitored as well and suggested that pharmacists should be encouraged to report family doctors who appeared to be prescribing outside of guidelines to the local Primary Care Trust.

The group, which has held a year-long inquiry into the subject, also said drugs such as Nurofen Plus and Solpadeine Plus should come with a warning about addiction risks and that advertising of this class of painkiller should stop.

The MP who chaired the group, Dr Brian Iddon, said the body had been shocked by the levels of people addicted to over-the-counter products containing codeine.

In addition, the group urged the Department of Health to establish procedures to ensure that GPs did not prescribe opiates and tranquilisers without good reason.

MPs said pill packet size should also be cut from 32 to 18 tablets though the Proprietary Association of Great Britain, which represents manufacturers of over-the-counter medicines, felt that this would cause "inconvenience and have no effect on addiction."

However, the PAGB said it was happy to discuss whether the warnings can be improved.

David Pruce, director of policy at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, said pharmacists tried to spot the abuse of painkillers but stressed that the misuse of medicines was difficult to control.

 

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