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Tranquillisers
A tranquilliser prescription is made out
The Tranquilliser Trap
Sunday 13 May 2001

Shelley Jofre investigates the spectre of tranquilliser dependency, and questions why, despite strict guidelines on their prescription, people in Britain are still prescribed them long-term.

Seventeen and a half million benzodiazepine tranquilliser prescriptions were issued by GPs in 1999 and it is estimated that around one million patients are now hooked on the drugs.

Shelley Jofre
Millions of prescriptions sit in a warehouse outside Newcastle
Panorama reveals that most patients are on repeat prescriptions and that many of them have been prescribed them for years rather than the recommended 4-week maximum.

The drugs used in the short-term are beneficial for a range of symptoms. But it is widely accepted that if these drugs are prescribed beyond the 4-week maximum, they can in fact be harmful to health.

This was the warning that was given to the nation's GP's by the government thirteen years ago - not to prescribe these drugs, including Valium and Mogadon, for more than four weeks, and not to provde them on repeat prescriptions.

Shelley Jofre asks why GPs and psychiatrists have routinely ignored warnings about side effects and addiction. Benzodiazepines are being prescribed to all ages, from teenagers to elderly patients, across the UK. But there is little or no provision for those who want to come off the drugs.

Production Team:
Reporter Shelley Jofre
Producer Murdoch Rodgers
Assistant Producers Tom Anstiss & Rob Cole

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Panorama: Special report on tranquillisers


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