Saturday, December 19. 2009
Tuesday, December 8. 2009
A service to commemorate the life of Colin Downes-Grainger will begin at 2pm on Thursday 17th December 2009 at Parndon Wood Crematorium, Parndon Wood Road, Harlow, Essex CM19 4SF.
Click here for more details.
Friday, November 27. 2009
Colin Downes-Grainger †
27th March 1947 - 25th November 2009
It is with profound sadness and an overwhelming sense of shock that I report that Colin Downes-Grainger passed away suddenly on Wednesday, November 25, 2009. Over the years Colin and I had become quite close friends and I had nothing but great admiration and respect for his dedication to the benzo cause and all that he achieved. I am indebted to him for all the kindness and constant support he showed me. I shall miss him terribly.
This blog and Colin's other writings will be preserved on this web site as a legacy and memorial.
Ray Nimmo, November 27, 2009
Wednesday, November 25. 2009
Thalidomide drug scandal victory in sight
THE government is proposing a multi-million-pound settlement for the surviving victims of thalidomide in an attempt to lay to rest the long-running drug scandal.
Wednesday, November 18. 2009
Received November 12 2009
Our ref: DE00000456977
Dear Mr Downes-Grainger,
Thank you for your email of 4 November to Baroness Thornton about tranquilisers. I have been asked to reply.
As she made clear in her response to Lord Montagu’s question in the Lords, this is an issue which the Government takes very seriously. You will be aware that there is a Department of Health review underway into dependence on prescribed and over-the-counter medicine. The review team is surveying services to support people who become dependent on these medicines reviewing evidence and auditing prescribing data.
Your note has been passed to the review team and will be taken into account.
Customer Service Centre
Wednesday, November 4. 2009
Email to Baroness Thornton, House of Lords
"Withdrawal symptoms can last months or years in 15% of long-term users. In some people, chronic use has resulted in long-term, possibly permanent disability." – Professor C Heather Ashton DM, FRCP, Good Housekeeping, August 2003.
"Release and self-help groups all over the country have done wonderful work, but why should people need to form groups for an urgent medical problem? This is drug-induced disease, not drug abuse." Tyrer P. The Benzodiazepine Post-Withdrawal Syndrome. Stress Medicine 1991; 7: 1-2.
Wednesday, November 4. 2009
15 Oct 2009 : Column WA30
Asked by The Earl of Sandwich
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their estimate of the numbers suffering each year (a) from addiction to benzodiazepines and other prescribed drugs, and (b) from withdrawal from such drugs. [HL5567]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will promote greater awareness within the medical profession of the risks of dependence on prescribed drugs. [HL5570]
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the National Health Service intend to assist local or regional support groups for those who depend on, or are withdrawing from, prescribed drugs. [HL5571]
Baroness Thornton: Addiction to prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can be a serious problem and the department is undertaking a review looking at:
what information is already available;identifying key gaps in data, such as the number of people who are dependent on, or suffering from withdrawal from, benzodiazepines and other prescribed drugs;services, with a view to highlight and disseminate good practice; and what additional work needs to be put in hand, including services to support people who are dependent on these medicines.
Additionally, the department is currently planning to commission research on the prevalence of, and the long-term effects of, dependence to benzodiazepines and is considering the role of preventive measures and raising awareness among patients and GPs of the risk of dependence that some prescription or OTC medicines have. We expect that this review will be completed next year
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency continuously monitors the safety of all medicines in the United Kingdom including concerns about misuse and dependence, and where necessary, takes suitable action to safeguard public health, this includes revised licences for use and patient information sheets
Health: Side Effects of Medication
House of Lords Tuesday 3 November 2009
Asked By The Earl of Sandwich
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how they will ensure that doctors and pharmaceutical companies fully recognise the long-term side effects of prescribed tranquillisers and antidepressants, and the nature of withdrawal symptoms.
Baroness Thornton: My Lords, the Government are aware of concerns around prescribing these medicines, particularly after the report of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drugs Misuse. The Department of Health is undertaking a review of addiction to medicines which is due to report next year, and of course the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency continuously monitors the safety of medicines on the UK market and issues advice to raise awareness of the potential for side effects.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply and I welcome the review. Can she confirm that there are approximately 1.5 million people in the UK who are addicted to prescribed drugs such as benzodiazepines? I declare an interest. A member of my family is confined to his room; he is trying to withdraw from one of these drugs. He cannot work or take the children to school. There is no government benefit or assistance for people in his situation. Can the Government confirm that they are getting on with a proper NHS network of support for these patients?
Baroness Thornton: The noble Earl is, I fear, not alone in direct experience of what can happen to people who suffer from withdrawal reactions to these drugs. There are support services available in some areas of the country which have a good success rate in helping people to withdraw from medicines to which they have become inadvertently addicted, but we recognise that the availability of these services is variable and patchy. Our review will seek to identify what needs to be done to better support people experiencing these problems. We will also review the services that are currently provided in order to gauge the level of support available, and draw on best practice to ensure that we get full cover and support for people in these situations.
Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, have the Government made their own special study of the effects of these tranquillisers? Are they able to impose their views on doctors and pharmaceutical companies? Does the Minister agree that pharmaceutical companies can be far more resistant to pressure from the Government than doctors and that it will require much stronger pressure on the companies than on the medical professions?
Baroness Thornton: My noble friend asks a very pertinent question. Product warnings are kept under close review. One example of this relates to products containing codeine, where new, hard-hitting warnings such as “can cause addiction” and “for three-day use only” on the front of the pack will be introduced next year. Guidance to the healthcare professions will be considered as part of the review that is taking place.
Lord Williamson of Horton: My Lords, I declare an interest as a patron of Rethink, the mental health charity, which does excellent work. There is also the medication helpline of the Maudsley Hospital. Will the Minister consider whether there could be improvements in the information available to those who suffer from mental health problems as the result of withdrawal from prescription drugs? There may be a gap there that we could help to fill.
Baroness Thornton: The noble Lord makes an important point, and the review will be looking at that. There are examples in Liverpool and Bristol of counselling information, education and advice being made available to people, but the noble Lord points to the importance of telling people who are being prescribed these drugs what the side effects might be.
Lord Elton: My Lords, will the inquiry bear in mind the advisability of advising doctors not merely on the dangers of addiction but on the method of keeping in view the condition of people for whom they prescribe these drugs long-term, and who will become addicted without their own knowledge unless they are carefully monitored?
Baroness Thornton: There is a great deal of information available to prescribers of these drugs: the British National Formulary; product information; the National Prescribing Centre, which has an excellent record; and—for the treatment of depression, for example—NICE guidance talks not only about the effect of prescribing but about the need to provide other therapies to people who are suffering from depression.
Baroness Barker: Does the Minister agree that it would be beneficial if all pharmaceutical companies were required to print information about the half-life of tranquillisers and anti-depressant drugs, so that individuals trying to manage the process of coming off them could do so knowing what the effects were likely to be over a short period?
Baroness Thornton: In answer to a Question put by my honourable friend Jim Dobbin, the Minister said that:
“The half-life of a drug intended for use as a sleeping tablet is only one of many factors that influences the safe use of a medicine. Information to aid … safe use … is provided in the product information which consists of the Summary of Product Characteristics … and the Patient Information Leaflet”.—[Official Report, Commons, 20/5/09; col. 1435W.]
The key point is that those resources are used at the right time.
Lord Crisp: My Lords, in setting up the review, will the Minister ensure that it takes full account of implementation? She will know as well as I do that there is a difference between policy and implementation. Does she have any thoughts about how to ensure that this policy, which needs to be a very personal one to every member of the primary care team, is disseminated so that people are not only aware of it but follow it in practice in all the individual cases that we are talking about?
Baroness Thornton: The review will be completed next year, with a report published later in the spring. We are doing a counting exercise, reviewing evidence of the prevalence of addiction, effective treatment and the long-term effects of the use of a range of antidepressants, sleeping pills and codeine-based painkillers. That will influence future policy. The noble Lord is right, though, that the policy leadership within the department has to address how to ensure that this is rolled out and how to use the machinery and levers that we have to ensure that it is implemented.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, does the Minister agree that these drugs are obviously very complicated and must be of benefit to a number of patients or they would not be in such common use? Does she have any figures on the percentage of people who become addicted?
Baroness Thornton: I do not have any figures on the percentage of people who become addicted. That is part of the exercise that we are undergoing. The noble Baroness is right that we must not forget the impact of depression, for example, on sufferers, and that depressive illness is a debilitating condition. One in four women and one in 10 men in the UK is likely to suffer from depression at some point in their lives, and these drugs will help to transform their lives and enable them to cope and recover.
Lord Acton: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that “next year” is a rather long and elastic time? Could the review not be tightened up a bit?
Baroness Thornton: We are moving with all speed because we know that this is important, but I promise my noble friend that I will take his views back to the department and see if there is any way that we can hurry up.
Tuesday, November 3. 2009
Yes, scientists do much good. But a country run by these arrogant gods of certainty would truly be hell on earth
By A N Wilson 3rd November 2009
Tuesday, November 3. 2009
Scientists advise, politicians decide
November 2nd, 2009
Benedict Brogan, The Telegraph
Way back when, nearly 350 economists signed a letter to the Times predicting the end of the world if Margaret Thatcher pressed ahead with her economic reforms. She ignored them, and the rest was national recovery. These days anyone who dares to question the scientific basis for man-made global warming gets it in the neck from the scientific community. And today a chap called Ian Stolerman, who rejoices in the title Emeritus Professor of Behavioural Pharmacology at King’s College London, gives warning that anyone mad enough to take over from Professor David Nutt as the Government’s drugs adviser could be branded a “collaborator”. Nice. Shall we shave their heads and parade them in the streets? So much for the open-mindedness of scientific inquiry and respect for the views of others.
Alan Johnson takes a healthily robust view of such things, as he shows in his letter to the Guardian in which he points out that Prof Nutt was sacked not for having different views but for campaigning against government policy. And the more I listen to the self-righteous warblings of Prof Nutt’s mates, the more I’m sympathetic to the Home Secretary. If the good professor had checked when he signed up, there was nothing in the small print to say that his advice would be taken. In fact, as my colleague Phil Johnston elegantly sets out today, everything about this Government’s approach to drugs has been supremely unscientific, not least Gordon Brown’s crass politicisation of the issue.
By all means condemn Labour’s drugs policy. But do not mistake that debate for the one about how Governments work. Ministers are entitled, even obliged to seek advice. They are also entitled to get that advice in private. They are also required to make decisions for themselves based not just on advice but on their beliefs and their political instincts. That is what we elect them for. Scientists should keep out of it, and certainly should not take it on themselves to act as a Greek chorus if their advice is ignored. If the politicians get it wrong, the voters will be the ones to judge.
Tuesday, November 3. 2009
Jeremy Laurance: Scientists can be as irrational about drugs as the rest of us
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
The war of Nutt's mouth is warming up nicely. The Professor of Psychopharmacology from Bristol University – who until Friday was the Government's chief adviser on drugs – insisted on opening it, while Home Secretary Alan Johnson was determined to shut it.
The spat has now gone nuclear, with everyone from Lord Winston, the Labour peer, to Sir Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer, weighing in. Battle lines have been drawn between rational scientists on one side – independent, objective, evidence-driven– and irrational politicians on the other – craven, vote-chasing, 'Daily Mail'-driven. Is this a fair distinction? Er, no. Scientists are human, too. They struggle to be rational and objective, and they summon evidence to justify their positions, but they are still subject to the same whims, obsessions and prejudices as the rest of us.
Professor (David) Nutt likes to compare the risks of ecstasy (30 deaths a year) with those of horse-riding (100 deaths a year), an activity he is doubtless familiar with in the leafy environs of Bristol, where he and his four children live.
Alan Johnson responds that there isn't much horse-riding in his Hull constituency – but there are thousands of young people popping pills on a Saturday night at risk.
We are all swayed by our experience. Professor Nutt ranks the risks of cannabis as low, below those of alcohol and cigarettes. Professor Robin Murray, of the Institute of Psychiatry, who has spent his professional life studying people with schizophrenia, amongst whom cannabis smoking is epidemic, thinks they are high enough to warrant concern.
Their scientific disagreement calls to mind the scene in Woody Allen's 1977 film 'Annie Hall', in which each of the main characters answers a question from their therapist about how often they have sex. "Hardly ever," replies Alvy Singer, the neurotic New Yorker; "All the time," says Annie Hall, his lover. But both agree it is three times a week.
Experience shapes our view of statistics. Doctors talk about the "last case" phenomenon. If your GP has just had a patient erupt in boils on medicine A, be prepared to accept a prescription for medicine B, even though A may the standard therapy for your condition.
The dominance of experience over evidence was demonstrated in last week's row over caesareans. Latest figures showed Britain's caesarean rate, at one in four of all births, is way above the 15 per cent rate the World Health Organisation has said should not be exceeded. So how did the professional bodies react? With diametrically opposite responses. The Royal College of Midwives, whose members deliver low-risk women, said the figures showed Britain's caesarean rate was too high. The Royal College of Obstetricians, which delivers specialist care to high-risk women, said Britain's rate was in line with other European countries and the status quo was fine. Facts are sacred – but everyone views them from their own perspective.
Monday, November 2. 2009
The Canonisation of Professor David Nutt
Dawn Primarolo MP
By that time there had been hundreds of millions of prescriptions and the conclusions, as they were simplistically based on the number of Yellow Cards received were as you know nonsense.
In 1988, based presumably on a more accurate assessment of the facts and available research, the Committee on the Safety of Medicines issued Current Problems 1988; Number 21: 1-2.which said among other things that:
In January 2004, with an understanding that benzodiazepines were still being over-prescribed and doctors were ignoring the advice in the British National Formulary, the Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson wrote in 'A communication to all doctors from the Chief Medical Officer CMO's Update 37.'
Our ref; 7000000378848
Saturday, October 31. 2009
Benzodiazepines are hard drugs though the risks of physical dependence are minimised; their prescription is regulated by poorly trained doctors who are incapable of managing coherent withdrawal programmes and all this in the interest of whom...of what? It is a major public health problem on a planetary scale which unfolds in the most total silence!
Frenchwoman Isabelle Barrat
Benzodiazepine Online Petition
Saturday, October 31. 2009
Action on Britain's epidemic of pill addiction
Peer to use House of Lords speech to reveal relative's addiction to prescription drug
By Jeremy Laurance, Health editor, the Independent
Saturday, 31 October 2009
As early as 30 years ago, the addictive properties of tranquillisers such as Valium were known, but critics maintain the Government is still not doing enough to help.
The Department of Health has launched a review of the million-plus patients addicted to prescribed drugs in the UK in a tacit admission that attempts to control the problem over the last two decades have failed.
An estimated 1.5 million people are addicted to prescription and over-the-counter drugs including benzodiazepine tranquillisers, sleeping pills such as zoplicone - implicated in the death of Hollywood star Heath Ledger - and painkillers containing codeine.
The review, which began in July, was disclosed in a Westminster hall debate last June but has not been formally announced. It followed a report by the House of Commons all-party group on drugs misuse which called for better training for doctors in the risks of over-prescribing, greater awareness of the scale of addiction and more centres for treatment.
On Tuesday, Lord Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, is to seek details of the Government review in the House of Lords and will say how the problem of addiction has impacted his own family.
He said: “Since January a member of my family has been suffering from acute withdrawal from this prescribed drug [a benzodiazepine]: his dreadful symptoms mean he is confined to his room, unable to work and attend to his family. He receives no government or medical support because there is none.” Lord Montagu said the government should take “urgent action” to help victims of benzodiazepine withdrawal and develop a network of clinics to care for them. “I would like to see direct support for people who are victims like the member of my family,” he said.
The addictive properties of benzodiazepines and similar tranquillisers, for which 11 million prescriptions were written last year, were first recognised three decades ago when the best known among them - Valium - was widely prescribed for stress. It became known as “mother’s little helper”, after the Rolling Stones 1960s hit, because GPs handed out large quantities of the pills to women trapped with small children in high rise blocks.
In 1980, an item on Esther Rantzen’s BBC TV programme “That’s Life” detailing the difficulty some people had withrawing from Valium, provoked the biggest response in the programme’s history, exposing a problem on a huge scale that had gone unnoticed by doctors. GPs had until then assumed, when patients complained of symptoms of withdrawal, that this was the anxiety returning - and prescribed more drugs. “That’s life” was later celebrated as the TV programme that changed the course of medicine.
In 1988, doctors were warned by the Committee on Safety of Medicines that prescriptions for the benzodiazepines should be limited to a maximum of four weeks . The warning was re-iterated by Sir Liam Donaldson, the Government’s Chief Medical Officer in 2004.
Campaigners say these measures have proved inadequate. The growth of on-line pharmacies, and the ease with which “legal” drugs can be obtained and used compared with the risks involved in illegal drug use, are contributing to the problem, they say.
Pam Armstrong, of the Council for Information on Tranquillisers and Antidepressants (CITA) in Liverpool said: “There are still lots and lots of patients being put on these drugs and kept on them for a long time. I have some sympathy with GPs - they get a lot of pressure from patients who want these drugs. But the problem has been ignored. These are patients who don’t go out mugging old ladies and creating trouble - and their needs are not being met.”
CITA has run clinics for addicted patients in GP surgeries across five primary care trusts in the north west for the last 15 years, helping wean patients off their drugs. This month the first private in-patient unit, the Sefton Suite, is due to open in Aintree, Liverpool. “We need services to be established on a national basis,” Ms Armstrong said.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health said prescribing of benzodiazepines had “declined substantially” in the last ten years.
“Misuse of any prescription medication can be extremely serious. Our main focus has been on prevention and we are currently looking at how we can further strengthen such measures. This includes reviewing prescribing guidelines and getting the full picture on over-the-counter and prescription drug dependence. We are also working closely with GPs to ensure they are fully aware of any potential side-effects from prescription drugs.”
Helpline - Council for Information on Tranquillisers and Antidepressants: 0151 932 0102
Case study: 'My life has been shattered'
Matthew (not his real name), was prescribed Efexor, an antidepressant, and Clonazepam, a benzodiazepine, to help him sleep following the failure of a business venture in 2001.
He was living abroad but returned to Britain where the prescription was continued. “For seven years I was fine. I didn’t really think about the pills, I took them as vitamins. It was something I did at the end of the day.”
Earlier this year increasing fatigue prompted him to try and withdraw from them. His doctor advised a “cold turkey” approach involving a few days in hospital, after which he would be drug free.
“I went in as a happy confident person and in two days I was a train wreck. I felt I had woken up in a horror film, I couldn’t walk or think and I had lost my memory. It was indescribable torture.”
Nine months on, he is still trying to put his life back together. Married with two children, he has been unable to return to work.
“I am still terrified of going outside, I can’t think straight or concentrate and I have very bad depression. Every single stimulus seems scary and heightened. It is absolutely extraordinary a prescription drug can do this to you. My life has been shattered.”
“There is nowhere for me to go for support except to other sufferers on the internet and one or two people who have set up support groups round the country.”
“I have seen several doctors since and they cannot believe my doctor kept me on these drugs for seven years. I have lodged a formal complaint about him.”
Thursday, October 29. 2009
Cannabis evidence 'was distorted'
The row over the reclassification of cannabis has been reignited after the government's chief drug adviser accused ministers of "distorting" the evidence. Professor David Nutt, who heads the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, says it does not cause major health problems.
He accused ex-home secretary Jacqui Smith, who reclassified the drug, of "devaluing" scientific research. The Home Office said these opinions "do not reflect the views of government". A spokesman said: "Prof Nutt's views are his own."
He added: "The government is clear: we are determined to crack down on all illegal substances and minimise their harm to health and society as a whole." It comes after Prof Nutt used a lecture at King's College in London and briefing paper to attack what he called the "artificial" separation of alcohol and tobacco from other, illegal, drugs.
The professor said smoking cannabis created only a "relatively small risk" of psychotic illness, and claimed those who advocated moving ecstasy into Class B from Class A had "won the intellectual argument".
Public concern over the links between high-strength cannabis, known as skunk, and mental illness led the government to reclassify cannabis to Class B from C last year. The decision was taken despite official advisers recommending against the change. Ministers said they wanted to make the move as a precautionary measure.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) review of cannabis classification, which was ordered in 2007, was the result of a "skunk scare", according to the professor. In his lecture and briefing paper, entitled Estimating Drug Harms: A Risky Business?, he repeated his claim that the risks of taking ecstasy are no worse than riding a horse.
Prof Nutt also warned that the reclassification decision may lead to more people taking the drug.
"It may be that if you move a drug up a class it has a greater cachet" he said, adding the government's approach "starts to distort the value of evidence".
He cited research which "estimates that, to prevent one episode of schizophrenia, we would need to stop about 5,000 men aged 20 to 25 years from ever using the drug".
He said skunk has been in wide usage for about 10 years but, he claims, there has been no upswing in schizophrenia.
The professor accepts cannabis can sometimes cause mental illness, but argues it is safer than tobacco and alcohol and, overall, does not lead to major health problems.
Prof Nutt said: "We have to accept young people like to experiment - with drugs and other potentially harmful activities - and what we should be doing in all of this is to protect them from harm at this stage of their lives.
"We therefore have to provide more accurate and credible information. If you think that scaring kids will stop them using, you are probably wrong."
Following these comments, a spokesman for the ACMD said: "The lecture Prof Nutt gave at King's College was in his academic capacity and was not in his role as chair of the ACMD.
"We acknowledge that the lecture has prompted further debate on the harms of drugs."
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2009/10/29 00:00:52 GMT
While D. Nutt might be right on the absolute dangers of alcohol, smoking and ecstasy , you have to wonder why it is that he spends his time on ivory tower examination of drug classification. Ersatz rehabilitation of a drug because it has the 'wrong classification' does not improve safety in my opinion. An abiding concern with drug classification has to be seen against his clearly observable love of drugs per se. This is the man after all who says the link between benzodiazepines and real damage has not been made.
Government thinks it reasonable to argue that a man in his position can push 'private views' which wildly differ from the official position on benzodiazepines and remain in post. It says something about how seriously government takes the protection of patient health, when it allows to thrive, a man whom it seems has dedicated his life to replacing long-standing guidance and understanding with something more acceptable to himself.
Wednesday, October 7. 2009
'Chemical cosh' drugs given to dementia patients, nurses admit
By Jenny Hope
Last updated at 7:28 AM on 07th October 2009
Dementia experts fear patients are being put at risk through the misuse of anti-psychotics
Dangerous drugs are being routinely prescribed to dementia victims on general hospital wards, according to alarming figures.
More than three-quarters of nurses admit such patients are being given anti-psychotic drugs - often known as the 'chemical cosh' - that double the risk of death, triple the risk of stroke and accelerate decline.
The research, revealed by the Alzheimer's Society, is the first time that evidence from nurses has highlighted the widespread prescription of drugs to people with dementia in hospital.
One in four nurses told the charity anti-psychotic drugs are being wrongly used to sedate elderly patients.
Last year MPs sounded alarm bells about the inappropriate use of such drugs for up to 100,000 people with dementia in care homes after hearing evidence that they can trigger premature death.
Campaigners claim Alzheimer's patients with behaviour problems are being 'killed' to make life easier for staff.
The Alzheimer's Society and ten leading bodies are calling for the immediate publication of a long-awaited Government review into the use of anti-psychotics.
In April health minister Phil Hope said the review would be published in May, but it has still not appeared.
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'The massive over-prescription of anti-psychotics to people with dementia is an abuse of human rights, causing serious side effects and increasing risk of death.
'These powerful drugs should only be used in a small number of cases. The Government must take action to ensure that these drugs are only ever used as a last resort.'
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Research Trust, said: 'While the Department of Health prevaricates, thousands of people are being put at risk through the misuse of anti-psychotics. After so many delays, the Government must take swift and decisive action.
'By breaking its promise to take prompt action on the misuse of anti-psychotic drugs, the Government is failing the most vulnerable people in our society.'
Anti-psychotic drugs are not licensed for treatment of dementia but are prescribed to control agitation, delusions, sleep disturbance and aggressive behaviour.
Typical drugs used for dementia symptoms are Largactil, Haloperidol, Serenace, Stelazine and Risperdal, which were originally licensed for schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions.
The charity's survey of more than 650 nurses and 450 nurse managers found 77 per cent reporting that people with dementia in general hospital wards are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs 'always' or 'sometimes'.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said 'The Government commissioned an independent review of prescribing anti-psychotic drugs to people with dementia and we expect to publish it, together with the department's response, shortly.
'People with dementia should only be offered anti-psychotics if they are severely distressed or there is an immediate risk of harm to the person or others.'
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