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Side effects of benzodiazepines
August 26, 1998
by Barry Haslam
Drs Ingram and Timbury of Southern General Hospital, Glasgow wrote on October 1, 1960, to The Lancet, as follows:
"A new tranquillising drug, (Librium), is now available commercially. It has been widely advertised in terms of its taming effect on wild animals and claims have been made that it is of special value in controlling phobic and obsessional symptoms in psychoneurosis although the published evidence for this is slight.
Nine outpatients with phobic anxiety states and six with obsessional neuroses have been treated with this substance for three weeks. The dosage given was 10mg thrice daily for the first week and 25mg thrice daily thereafter. Only three of the nine phobic patients and one of the six obsessional neurotics felt any subjective improvement.
Side-effects were seen in over half the patients. Two felt drowsy on the smaller dose, five on the larger. Two felt fatigued and apathetic, and dizziness and constipation were reported. One patient felt more energetic and two complained of severe irritability. After taking the drug for a week a schoolteacher struck his wife for the first time in the twenty years of their marriage. Of the fifteen patients, three had to stop work because of the side-effects and two others refused to continue taking the drug after two weeks.
Although the number treated is small and the findings uncontrolled, the results are disappointing enough and the side-effects sufficiently troublesome to deserve attention. Other side-effects reported in trials in the United States have included dissociative reactions, hyperactivity, and ataxia.
We feel justified in suggesting that the drug should be used with circumspection and scepticism until the results of controlled trials are available."
In the light of this evidence, why 38 years later, have no details of any controlled trials been released to the general public of this country? Why will the Department of Health and the Medicines Control Agency not fund clinical trials into Benzodiazepine long-term addicts and ex-addicts, damaged as a result of taking these drugs.
Why did it take until 1980 for the CRM (Committee on Review of Medicines) to state that the efficacy of Benzodiazepine drugs was for four months only?
Why did it take until 1988 for the CSM (Committee on Safety of Medicines) to issue guidelines to GPs to limit prescribing of Benzodiazepines to new patients for two to four weeks' duration only?
Why have the problems associated with Benzodiazepine drugs not been addressed much earlier?
There are about 300 medical papers and adverts revealing that all problems were known in the 6Os concerning these drugs.
Just what have the medical profession been hiding from the victims of Benzodiazepine drugs, and why has the truth not been told?
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