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OTC ‘leading to addiction’

12th February 2008

An enquiry into prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs has concluded that an increasing number of Britons are becoming addicted to painkillers.

The parliamentary enquiry asserted that doctors are issuing inappropriate repeat prescriptions of painkillers, sleeping pills and anxiety-combating drugs.

It suggested the ready availability of such medications is causing “addiction and dependence”.

Dr Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, responded to the findings, saying it raises concerns over patients abusing both pharmacy-bought and prescription drugs.

The enquiry heard that some patients who had suffered headaches or back complaints were becoming addicted to the OTC drugs they took to manage the pain, meaning they continued to take them after they recovered.

Last year, in the British Medical Journal, doctors warned that they had seen an increase in the number of patients addicted to OTC drugs containing codeine phosphate and ibuprofen.

It warned that the abuse of such medicines could lead to gastrointestinal bleeding.

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