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Pharmacists 'should report GPs over off-label prescribing'

By Nigel Praities

Pharmacists should scrutinise GP scripts and report those who regularly prescribe off-label, say an influential group of MPs.

The All-Party Parliamentary Drugs Misuse Group, led by labour MP Dr Brian Iddon, call for more GP prescribing to be more carefully monitored.

They recommend GPs justify their off-label prescribing to PCTs and pharmacists should flag up GPs who regularly prescribe outside the indications in the BNF to their PCT.

The call comes in their report looking at the causes of addiction to prescription and OTC medications. The APDMS criticise GPs for ignoring guidelines and a ‘lack of awareness' over the addictive nature of prescription drugs, such as benzodiazepines.

‘GPs in the UK enjoy a lot of autonomy, and a lot of trust is put in their capacity to make complex clinical judgements.

‘However, we need to feel reassured that the GPs making those decisions are keeping up-to-date with the latest research on, for example, the complexities involved in withdrawing from certain mind-altering prescription drugs,' the report says.

The report also criticises GPs for not providing adequate support for patients who present with an addiction to pain-killers.

Dr Iddon said: 'Despite clear guidance around the use of benzodiazepines, we heard from many people still in receipt of regular repeat prescriptions, some for years at a time ... This issue cannot be ignored any longer. We must establish the scale of the problem and provide proper diagnosis and treatment for those affected.'

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