Thursday, 23 May 2013

Regulatory control over Xanax prescriptions



ange_rintoul (3)The TGA is expected to announce an interim decision today on whether tighter controls will be placed on benzodiazepines, including the particularly problematic drug alprazolam (AKA Xanax). This move has been supported by a range of legal experts and health professionals including Ms Angela Rintoul, Doctor of Public Health candidate at the School of Public Health.

 Ms Rintoul compiled a submission to the TGA Drugs and Poisons Scheduling Committee in January supporting the rescheduling of alprazolam to Schedule 8. She also recently published a study with colleagues in the MJA that found the supply of alprazolam in Victoria had increased over 1400% since 1990. Of additional concern was an increase in detection of alprazolam in heroin –related deaths, from 2 in 2004 to 27 in 2010. The overprescribing of alprazolam is likely to be driving an illicit supply of this drug; in 2011, 81% of people who inject drugs reported that they obtained alprazolam from diverted sources.

These findings are coincident with converging reports of harm from several sources. Workers in forensic settings, the justice system as well as drug and alcohol workers have reported an association between alprazolam use, violent behaviour in otherwise non-violent people, memory loss and theft.

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