Home > Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 68 - Misuse of drugs [Sedatives] [20705/16].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Written answer 68 - Misuse of drugs [Sedatives] [20705/16]. (12 Jul 2016)

External website: http://oireachtasdebates.oireachtas.ie/Debates%20A...

68. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health if there is evidence available that the rescheduling of b​enzodiazepines or ​Z​ drugs could​ prevent the misuse of dangerous or harmful drugs; the specific requests the Garda made to him regarding the rescheduling of these drugs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [20705/16]


Minister of State at the Department of Health (Deputy Catherine Byrne): Benzodiazepines, as a group of medicines, are commonly used to treat anxiety, sleep disturbance and insomnia. Benzodiazepines are known to be associated with dependence and withdrawal symptoms and consequently are primarily recommended for short-term treatment only. The 'Z drugs' are a group of medicines (zopiclone, zolpidem and zaleplon) which are used to treat insomnia. They have a shorter duration of action than benzodiazepines. The problem of the misuse of prescription drugs has been recognised at national, European and international levels.


The supply of prescription medicines in Ireland is controlled in a number of ways. Under the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations, it is prohibited for a person to supply a prescription medicine except in accordance with a prescription, and the supply must be made from a registered pharmacy by or under the personal supervision of a registered pharmacist. A person who contravenes these Regulations is guilty of an offence. Medicines which have a high potential to be misused are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation. The Misuse of Drugs Acts and Regulations impose restrictions on the production, supply, importation and exportation of controlled drugs, such as morphine, methadone and amphetamines. A person who has in his possession a prescription medicine containing a controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs legislation for the purpose of selling or supplying it unlawfully, is guilty of an offence under that legislation.


The Gardaí have indicated to officials in my Department that introducing stricter controls on benzodiazepines and controlling zopiclone and other z-drugs will assist in disrupting street dealing in these drugs. The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Bill brings under the scope of the legislation certain prescription medicines including zopiclone. The legislation will also control certain psychoactive drugs such as 'clockwork orange'. Following enactment of the Bill the associated regulations will be introduced. These regulations will apply import and export controls, tighter prescribing and dispensing controls as well as an offence of possession, thereby assisting the Customs and An Garda Síochána in protecting public health and local communities.

Repository Staff Only: item control page