On 6 October 2010, The Earl of Sandwich, Lord Montagu, stood up in the House of Lords, and asked the minister a series of questions regarding the estimated 1.5 million patients who are addicted to benzodiazepine drugs.
He echoed what many advocates here in the UK have been saying for years, in a nutshell, the boneheads responsible for drug safety and those that manufacture these drugs are not doing enough to safeguard public health.
Lord Montagu also called for clinics to be put in place to help those that have fallen foul of the incompetence of the UK drug regulator and also queried the ethics behind the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture benzodiazepines.
Although the withdrawal problems discussed were, in the main, about benzodiazepines, other drugs, such as the SSRi Seroxat, were also mentioned and in particular the investigation into GlaxoSmithKline.
The debate was shared before a meagre number of Lords and it is clear that those speaking were baffled at the lack of action by the MHRA.
My Lords, ladies and gentlemen... welcome to a world where addiction to prescription drugs is of no concern to the drug regulator. They will appease you, ignore you, label you vexatious, make promises, claim they are doing everything in their power to safeguard public health.
It's all about profit and the MHRA are agents for that profit.
A debate is all well and good but the likelihood of any action being taken is slim.
Pharmaceutical companies hold the UK government by the short and curlies. Speak out against them and they will threaten to move their business to the far east.
The Lords, MP's and patient advocates are merely flea bites to the industry, a minor annoyance.
A different approach is needed I'm afraid. The MHRA needs to be removed and an impartial drug regulator needs to be put in place, one that actually has the balls to pull a drug from the shelf without claiming its benefits outweigh its risks.
The addiction problem to prescription drugs, be they benzodiazepines, SSRi's, pain killers, smoking cessation drugs et al, is a huge problem, too huge for the MHRA.
There has been much emphasis by the Conservative/Lib Dem Party with regard to getting the unemployed back to work. They want to save billions by getting people off state benefits. They need to look closely at the addiction problem, there are millions of people who have become dependent on prescription drugs, millions of people who cannot withdraw, the same millions of people who would love to work but can't because the government are doing nothing to help them. They are the dregs of society, the forgotten masses who, through no fault of their own, are hooked on drugs that have been given the all-clear by governmental departments.
The ship that is 10 Downing Street has two Captain's at the helm. They are steering the ship blindly, they have no navigation system put in place, just a tunnel vision that they are right.
If they want people off state benefits and back into the work place then start with those who WANT to work and not the pot smoking yobs whose benefit handout is a means to buy their weekly entertainment in the shape of cannabis and/or a couple of lines of cocaine.
The government have a bigger problem than recreational drugs, they have a drug regulator whose limp-wristed approach to patient safety has been questioned time and time again.
It's time to stop asking questions. The bull needs to be grabbed by the horns and a new regulator needs to be put in place, one that does not have ties to the pharmaceutical industry, one that does not play around with patients lives and well-being, one that will use money to help the patient and not promote the safety of pharmaceutical drugs.
Forget the fake drugs being sold. The problem is the 'real' drugs being prescribed and protected by the MHRA.
Withdrawal clinics, re-education for doctors that prescribe and criminal charges brought against drug manufacturer are needed. No more pussy footing around asking for help.
My Lords... it's time to walk the walk.
Here's the one hour debate.
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'THE EVIDENCE, HOWEVER, IS CLEAR...THE SEROXAT SCANDAL' By Bob Fiddaman
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