Prescription drugs kill more Brits than heroin and cocaine

September 11, 2013

UK doctors have come under fire after new figures showed more patients died from overdosing on prescription drugs than heroin and cocaine abuse in 2012.

The recent report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says the deaths from abuse of strong painkillers and tranquillizers had an increasing rate compared to the falling mortality numbers of people dying from abuse of opiate-based drugs.

According to ONS, 807 people died from fatal overdose of prescription drugs last year, a rise of 16 per cent in five years, compared with 718 who fell victim to heroin and cocaine abuse.

Experts say British doctors have failed to warn patients of the addictive effects of some painkillers and tranquilizers.

They also warned GPs to avoid giving out repeat prescriptions before a patient has finished all drugs from his last visit.

A Labour MP says the government has done little to prevent overdoses from prescription drugs that are known to be addictive.

“This can be long-term addiction and there is very little support for addicts. There needs to be more understanding of how serious this problem is,” Jim Dobbin said.

“Lives are being destroyed and people are being left without the help and support they need. The Government has refused to accept the scale of the problem”.

Statistics from Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) show doctors have increased painkiller prescriptions by 30-percent over five years.

Since last year, records revealed prescriptions for all types of painkillers stood at 62 million.