PAIN welcomes the publication of the analysis report by the BMA’s Board of Science, titled ‘Prescribed drugs associated with dependence and withdrawal – building a consensus for action’ which was published on 12 October 2015. The BMA is the British Medical Association is the trade union and professional body for doctors in the UK.
The report reviewed evidence and submissions from a variety of stakeholders, including patient groups and medical bodies such as the Royal College of General Practitioners and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. Unfortunately, PAIN did not have the opportunity to submit as part of this process. Dependence on opioid painkillers is one of the drugs of dependence considered as part of this report.
PAIN agrees with CEP and the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ view (expressed in the report) that traditional addiction services are not appropriate for patients dependent on prescribed drugs, and supports its call for a review of the evidence and clinical guidelines in this area, including optimal methods of withdrawal.
The report noted that existence of guidance for opioid prescribing is not always followed. For example, while the Faculty of Pain Medicine have published guidance (in collaboration with a number of other organisations) on the appropriate use of opioids, they reported “…that guidelines in the UK and elsewhere have had little, if any impact on opioid prescribing trends and ……falsely reassuring prescribers and eroding sound patient- centred clinical decision making.” There was little discussion in responses as to why doctors might prescribe outside of the guidelines.
The APPG for Prescribed Drug Dependence believes that the priority here is to provide support services for patients who have become dependent, starting with a government-funded national telephone helpline. PAIN welcomes this report and hopes that the BMA will work with us and others in partnership to support this issue. We very much agree with the APPG that there is a country wide need to support people with a dependence on prescription drugs with access to a national telephone helpline.