There is a welcome call from the British Medical Association to create a helpline for those suffering side effects of prescribed medicines. On Thursday I raised the new threat in Commons Business Questions. I will press for a debate.
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab)
The total number of deaths caused in America by the side effects of opioid drugs has now grown to a larger figure than the total number of people killed there by road traffic accidents, guns and terrorism. Given that the use of those drugs is increasing in this country, and given that our usage of them amounts to a third of that throughout the continent of Europe, may we debate the terrible dangers that result from medicines that are more deadly than the maladies?
Mr Lidington (Leader of the House)
The hon. Gentleman has looked at drug use and drugs policy for many years, so I listen with some respect to what he says. There will be the opportunity to question Home Office Ministers about this on 31 October, and I suggest that he take advantage of that opportunity.
On Wednesday there was a very enthusiastic meeting of the Commons All-Party Group on Prescribed Medicines Harm. Four experts gave fascinating, disturbing accounts of he scale and serious nature of damaging addictions and rising numbers of death from the use drugs-usually prescribed for transitory mild ailments. A vivid account was given of a life of a young journalist that was reduced to the inactivity of chronic addiction. The issue will receive a great deal of long over-due publicity in the next few days.
Among the inveterate campaigners are Barry Haslam and my former colleague Jim Dobbin who chaired the APPG before his tragic death on a Council of Europe visit to Poland. Jim was a Papal Knight, a fine MP, a microbiologist and a rare MP scientist who understood the scourge of addiction and deaths caused by the careless prescription of dangerous addictive drugs.
The BBC Victoria Derbyshire episode can be seen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07zmmgx/victoria-derbyshire-19102016 starting at 13.05 with the accompanying article here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37682355
The BBC Radio 5 programme can be heard here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07zxrdb after broadcast which is at 11am