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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 March 2007, 13:27 GMT
Half of doctors 'self-medicate'
Self-prescribing is prohibited
Nearly half of GPs are ignoring rules saying they should not prescribe themselves drugs, a poll suggests.

According to Pulse magazine, 43% of doctors write prescriptions for their own personal use, including antibiotics and strong painkillers.

This contravenes General Medical Council advice which says doctors should get a prescription from a professional colleague if they are ill.

The GMC warned a doctor could be struck off its register for breaking the rule.


The rules were tightened following the Shipman Inquiry when the full extent of serial killer GP Harold Shipman's abuse became clear.

Shipman was addicted to the painkiller pethidine and kept supplies for himself.

According to the poll of nearly 1,000 medics, 57% of the self-prescriptions were for antibiotics, 36% for painkillers, 8% for cholesterol-lowering drugs, 5% for sleeping pills, 5% for anti-depressants and 2% for erection problems.

Two GPs who responded admitted to self-prescribing controlled drugs - drugs like morphine and methadone that have strict rules governing supply and dosage.

Rule breaking

Younger doctors were particularly likely to self-prescribe, with 49% doing so, according to the survey.

A quarter of the GPs said they were suffering from depression and more than half reported having trouble sleeping.

The GMC says doctors should not treat themselves and should be registered with an independent GP.

Michael Keegan, policy adviser with the GMC's standards and ethics team, warned doctors: "Good practice means you should follow our guidelines. Serious departures will call a doctor's registration into question."

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