From The BMJ: “This week, BBC1’s Panorama drew sharp attention to the problem of prescribed drug dependence and withdrawal in the United Kingdom, providing insight into an iatrogenic problem affecting large numbers of people internationally. While this has been a problem for decades, the Panorama programme shows that there are still almost no NHS services to support patients who have been harmed by taking medicines as prescribed by their doctor, such as antidepressants and benzodiazepines. In the absence of these services, the programme detailed how patients experiencing severe and prolonged withdrawal symptoms have resorted to online peer groups for validation, support, and safe drug tapering advice. The patient community, it seems, has been forced to develop its own withdrawal protocols (e.g. for antidepressants) in the absence of sufficient tapering guidance being advanced by NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) or any other national clinical guidelines internationally.
. . . We believe that the NHS has a clinical and moral obligation to help those who have been harmed by taking their medication as prescribed. Panorama has revealed the scale of the problem and the horrendous impact it has had on so many people’s lives. To help mitigate these impacts, we therefore urgently call upon the UK government to fund and implement withdrawal support services, including a national helpline.”
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