Fears UK Could Follow the US into Opioid Crisis

Sky News report on Prescribed Drug Dependence ahead of an investigation by Public Health England which looks at the overprescription of drugs with a dependence-forming potential including antidepressants, opioid painkillers and sleeping tablets.

The PHE review was launched in January 2018 and its report is expected soon. Included in the review are benzodiazepines, Z-drugs, GABA-ergic medicines, opioid pain medications and antidepressants. The report comes in the midst of startling increases in prescribing. In the UK, 2018 saw 71 million antidepressants, 40.5 million painkillers and 6 million sleeping tablets prescribed, alongside 7 million prescriptions for pregabalin.

Speaking in the Sky News piece, Professor John Read, a professor of Clinical Psychology from the University of East London, said that the PHE review will be a turning point when looking at past decades of minimising the problems of dependence on prescribed drugs.

The report also comes at a time when one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Johnson and Johnson, was fined $572 million by a US court, being accused of a cynical campaign to drive up sales and fuelling the US opioid epidemic.