A benzo brother, Barry Haslam sends me emails about the political undertakings in the U.K. with regards to benzos. Recently laws were passed (or being passed?) to allow types of doctors who previously were not allowed to prescribe a benzo to now prescribe them. Needless to say, this is frustrating to those of us who have been harmed by the drugs and know the dangers. It is frustrating that the people in charge continue to ignore the facts about benzos, year after year, decade after decade, while more lives are ruined and lost.

John Perrot wrote this letter in reply to an email that Barry wrote. I asked John for permission to reprint it here. It gives a good overview of how hard and long the battle to ban benzos for more than the manufacturer’s suggested use has been. I’m unaware of any legal battles here, other than petitions that circulate about benzos. If our battle will look anything like the one waged over the pond, we have our work cut out for us, but I think we know that.

Thank you John, for your permission to post your letter:

“Wholeheartedly agree Barry. No-one in government, DH, MHRA, RCGP, RCPsych, BMA can pretend they did not know about the benzo issue from the early 1980’s onwards.

Over 1000 Parliamentary Questions since the late 1970’s; hundreds of research papers about the dangers of benzos all ignored; at least 24 years of “taking it seriously” by the Department of Health; “Beat the benzos” campaign from 1997 – 2007 with evidence submitted by Phil Woolas MP, John Grogan MP and Sir Sydney Chapman MP; promises made and broken by countless Public Health ministers and more recently Prime Minister David Cameron; there’s a letter published in the Journal of the RCGP as early as 1983 asking for help  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1973010/?page=1; concerns expressed repeatedly to DH, the Royal Colleges and the BMA by benzo experts Professors Ashton and Lader and ignored……

All met with denial. Denial of withdrawal syndromes and damage caused by long-term use, professors with conflicts of interest with pharma writing so called “independent” reports omitting known risks and long-term effects or making decisions on drug policy, denial of the scale of the problem, feigned concern, obfuscation…..the list is endless.

All we want is dedicated national withdrawal services and enforcement of the CSM 1988 2 – 4 week benzo prescribing guidelines (ignored for 27 years now) to help patients who have been harmed by doing nothing more than following their doctors’ instructions.

What do we get? A continuing drug misuse agenda and no services.

We are drowning in evidence. Drug deaths, hospital admissions, risk of early dementia, social decline, withdrawal syndromes lasting years, suicides…..it has been submitted again and again with no action.”

John Perrot.