To ask the Secretary of State for Health, with reference to the Answer of 24 March 2015 to Question 227804, if his Department plans to commission further research on (a) patterns of long-term prescription of dependency-forming medicines and (b) the scale of addiction to benzodiazepines, z drugs and other such medicines.
The Department has commissioned the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Public Health Research Consortium to conduct a study to explore patterns of prescribing for specific medicines that have a risk of dependence, using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink. These include: benzodiazepines; z-drugs; opioid-containing prescription drugs for pain; and the GABA-ergic drugs, pregabalin and gabapentin.
This study will not assess dependence on such medicines, because being in receipt of a prescription is not indicative of dependence. However, it will seek to explore the circumstances in which prescriptions of medicines with a risk of dependence are issued. A better understanding of prescribing patterns is an important step in helping clinicians identify patients at risk of dependence on the medicines they prescribe.