Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Michael Jackson

Press Release
25 August 2009
from Jim Dobbin M.P., Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction.

Sky News and the Times are reporting today that Michael Jackson's death has been ruled to be a homicide and that the drugs found in his body included the anaesthetic Propofol but also the benzodiazepine tranquillisers Ativan (Lorazepam),Valium and Midazolam.

I would like to comment on the dangers of the benzodiazepine tranquillisers involved. In 2004 the Canadian Ativan data sheet contained the warning that "Use of benzodiazepines,including lorazepam may lead to potentially fatal respiratory depression." It also contained a seven day addiction warning and suicide warning ,for lorazepam.

Phil Woolas M.P. wrote to Sir Alastair Breckenbridge, Chair of the U.K. drug licensing authority the MHRA,in 2004 asking for similar warnings to be introduced into the U.K. product information.The warnings were never introduced and in fact no product information sheet for lorazepam tablets was published at all in the U.K. in 2009, despite the increased number of licenses issued.

Tranquilliser related deaths in the U.K. are running at some 300 per year, in some years they have exceeded the total number of deaths for all class A drugs added together, according to Home Office figures. In answer to a Parliamentary question the Department of Health reported that in 2008 over 17 million tranquilliser prescriptions were issued in the U.K., an increase on 2007. My question is how many people have died a Michael Jackson type death in the U.K. and elsewhere, but with no homicide investigation or any other kind of investigation.

Tranquillisers are highly addictive yet the Department of Health provides no withdrawal treatment at all except for one worker in Belfast and two in Oldham. The All Party Parliamentary Group on Involuntary Tranquilliser Addiction (APPGITA) is campaigning for the introduction of specialized tranquilliser withdrawal services by the Department of Health.We are also campaigning for medical research into the damage caused by tranquillisers, a review of the benzodiazepine product licenses which were issued with no assessment of safety or efficacy and a no-fault drug compensation scheme for patients who suffer drug injuries.

Jim Dobbin M.P.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

DoH Review

The Department of Health has undertaken a review of policy on addiction to prescribed and over-the-counter medication with the intention of producing a report in December 2009.

The review manager is Anne Grosskurth and her address is:

Department of Health
133-135 Waterloo Road, 616

Letter from Home Office re ACMD

Please click on image for larger view.