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GPs told to report all cases of prescription drug addiction

GPs have been told to secretly record any cases of prescription drug addiction they encounter by MPs.

A report from the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee recommends that the RCGP produces guidance for GPs to report all cases to the National Drug Treatment Monitoring System in order to ‘clarify the prevalence of prescription drug misuse’.

The report cited evidence from a Family Doctor GP survey in 2011 that found over half of GPs surveyed were worried about prescription drug abuse in their area and 80% of the 197 GPs who responded to the survey said they were aware of prescribing to people who they thought were addicted. 

The committee’s chairman, Keith Vaz told the Guardian newspaper: ‘Local GPs need to report their suspicions and collate information to illuminate this problem. If we do not act the catastrophic consequences of tomorrow can be seen in the US today.’

But GPC chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘GPs already play a key role in treating patients in the community suffering from the impact of drug addiction. It is a devastating medical condition that ruins lives, families and communities and it is right that we continuously look at how we can improve drug addiction treatment.

‘However, the identification of individuals addicted to prescription drugs is not straight forward and whilst we should do all we can to support their withdrawal from such drugs, we also need to ensure that patients are confident that their sensitive personal data will remain secure.

‘Any data collection exercise is properly considered, piloted and tested before it is implemented.’