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GPs accused over painkillers

By Nigel Praities

Primary care prescribing is set to come under increased scrutiny after MPs accused GPs of getting patients ‘hooked on painkillers.'

Labour MP Dr Bill Iddon said patients were increasingly becoming addicted to painkillers because GPs were failing to monitor repeat prescriptions they issued for the drugs.

Dr Iddon is chairing an inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Drugs Misuse into access to prescription and OTC medications and reasons for their misuse.

Professor Steve Field, chair of the RCGP, responded to the accusations, saying repeat prescription was not the only source of opiates.

‘GPs have improved systems for repeat prescribing, but patients can still get many drugs over the counter,' he said.

Professor Field recommended GPs reviewed pain relief medication regularly and suggested pharmacists could begin registering patients.

‘Not only should patients be registered with a GP, but with a pharmacist as well. Then we would know what medications they were taking,' he suggested.

Iddon's comments come the month after another group of MPs criticised rising primary care prescribing costs and recommended additional controls to boost generic prescribing.

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