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Volume 487: debated on Wednesday 11 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy not to amend guidelines to doctors on the prescribing of benzodiazepines. (253453)

In 1994, the Department issued copies of ‘Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Benzodiazepine Dependence’, published by the Mental Health Foundation, to all health authorities and recommended their use by general practitioners. The Department issued another publication in 1999 entitled, ‘Drug misuse and dependence—guidelines on clinical management (1999)’, which reiterates these messages. A copy of this publication has been placed in the Library. The British National Formulary is also an important source of guidance on the management of benzodiazepine dependence.

The CMO Update 37, sent by the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the Department of Health to all doctors in England, issued in January 2004, issued advice reminding doctors that benzodiazepines should only be prescribed for short-term treatment. A copy has been placed in the Library.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence develops and publishes clinical guidelines and they may amend this advice in future in light of new evidence, but there are no current plans to do so.