Health: Drugs

House of Lords written question – answered on 23rd March 2010.

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Photo of The Earl of Sandwich The Earl of Sandwich Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Minister for Health, Mr Kenneth Clarke, on 4 December 1984 (Official Report, Commons, col. 172-4W) regarding 15 grant-aided scientific studies of the side-effects of benzodiazepines, whether the results of those studies were published; if so, whether copies are available; and whether any further studies were supported after 1984.

Photo of Lord Drayson Lord Drayson Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (also in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), Minister of State (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills) (Science and Innovation) (also in the Ministry of Defence)

The Medical Research Council (MRC) is one of the main agencies through which the Government support medical and clinical research. The MRC is an independent body which receives its grant-in-aid from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The MRC does not hold comprehensive information on research papers relating to the 15 studies reported in the response given on 4 December 1984 (Hansard, Commons, col. 172-4W), and for other studies on the side effects of benzodiazepines funded until 1996. To obtain this information would require accessing and reviewing numerous hard copy documents and could therefore only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

Since 1996 the MRC has funded five grants relating to benzodiazepines, which have all now ended. The details of these grants are:

Professor S Killcross, University of York/Cardiff University-the role of the amygdala in conditioned fear and anxiety (1/11/1998-30/9/2004 £309k);Dr J Pratt, University of Strathclyde-the neurochemistry of benzodiazepine withdrawal; a focus on glutamate and dopamine (1/9/1997-31/8/1998 £39k);Professor D Stephens, University of Sussex- a pilot study on the kindling hypothesis of dependence on sedative-hypnotic drugs (1/2/1996-31/1/1997 £37.5k);Professor D Stephens, University of Sussex-sensitisation to repeated withdrawal from alcohol and benzodiazepines (1/9/1999-31/08/2004 £1.2m); and Professor A M Thomson, Royal Free and UCL Medical School-modulation of morphologically defined inhibitory synapses by benzodiazepines barbiturates and steroids (1/1/96-31/12/98 £352k).

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