Home > Public health dimensions of benzodiazepine regulation.

Quigley, Paul A (2001) Public health dimensions of benzodiazepine regulation. Critical Public Health, 11, (4), pp. 331-339.

Benzodiazepines, one of a group of structurally-related drugs with sedative and hypnotic effects, were originally developed as an alternative to barbiturates. During the 1970s they became one of the most prescribed drugs in general practices, and valium and dalmane were among the most-frequently advertised products in leading medical journals. Research into benzodiazepine prescription in general practice has shown that many are repeat prescriptions, with minimal contact between doctor and patient. Prevalence of benzodiazepine use was found to be higher in women, the elderly, the chronically ill and those with family, social and economic problems. Despite the establishment of guidelines discouraging long-term benzodiazepine prescribing, it remains a significant feature in medical practice in the UK. The guidelines may not have sufficiently considered the negative therapeutic implications for legitimate patients of restricting availability. A plan for effective benzodiazepine regulation requires a grasp of the dynamics of drug prescribing, consumption and diversion. The effects of harmful drug use in socially disadvantaged areas underlines the urgent need for further quantitative and qualitative research in this area.

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