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All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse launches inquiry into misuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs

24 July 2007

STOP PRESS: The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse has extended the deadline for submissions to the inquiry to Friday 9 November 2007


The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse (APPGDM), a cross-party group of MPs and Peers, is today launching a new inquiry into the scale and nature of prescription-only and over-the-counter drug misuse.

The inquiry, facilitated by DrugScope, will provide an in depth study of an area of drug misuse that is often unrecognised despite, it is believed, affecting thousands of people in the UK. The inquiry is inviting evidence from across the drug treatment, pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors, as well as from the general public, in an effort to ascertain the current scale and nature of the problem, including trends and patterns of misuse. APPGDM members are particularly keen to hear from members of the public who have been affected by prescription-only and over-the-counter drug misuse.

The APPGDM is defining 'misuse' to include situations where there may have been poor prescribing practices that may have led to dependency or other problems for the patient, as well as any use for which the medication was not originally intended. In using the term 'misuse' the APPGDM recognises that different factors and circumstances can contribute to problems associated with the use of prescription-only and over-the-counter drugs.

The inquiry will be considering questions such as:

  • What is the current scale of the misuse of prescription-only and over-the-counter drugs in the UK?
  • What are the physical, social, psychological and economic harms of prescription-only and over-the-counter drug misuse?
  • What is the role of the internet in the supply of prescription-only and over-the-counter drugs for misuse?
  • Who should take responsibility for tackling misuse of prescription-only and over-the-counter drugs?
  • Are there sufficient sources of help and support for people experiencing a problem with the misuse of prescription-only and over-the-counter drugs?

Part of the inquiry will include a literature review of the current research in this area. The APPGDM will be taking written and oral evidence from interested parties and the inquiry will publish its findings in a report next year.

Dr Brian Iddon MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse, said today:

“The misuse of prescription and over-the-counter medicines is a problem that has been affecting the UK for many years. We know that thousands of people’s lives have been affected by the misuse of drugs found in the home medicine cabinet or at the chemists.

“We are also increasingly concerned about the number of users buying medicines online, where they face the very real risk of buying counterfeit products that may be dangerous.

“The inquiry we are launching today is an opportunity to gather the evidence necessary to begin addressing this problem and to give a voice to those currently suffering in silence.”

***ENDS***

Notes to editors

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Misuse (APPGDM) is a cross-party group of MPs and Peers with an interest in developing effective responses to drug misuse.

DrugScope is the UK’s leading centre of expertise on drugs. Our aim is to inform policy and reduce drug-related risk. DrugScope provides secretariat support to the APPGDM. For more on our work please see www.drugscope.org.uk

1. A call for evidence, including details on how to submit evidence, was issued on the 24th July 2007. Download the paper here (PDF 29KB)

2. The deadline for the submission of written evidence is Friday 9 November 2007.

3. Invited parties will be invited to submit oral evidence in autumn 2007.

4. The APPGDM will be collating the evidence and publishing a report in the spring of 2008.

For more information please contact Ruth Goldsmith in the DrugScope Press Office on 020 7940 7517 (07736 895563 out of hours) or at press@drugscope.org.uk