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The UK can be confronted with an opioid addiction crisis like the US in just five years, the expert warns

The UK could be in the grip of a deadly painkiller addiction crisis in the next five years, a doctor has warned.

Opioids, including codeine, morphine and tramadol, should only be available on prescription in Great Britain, but researchers have managed to purchase them without a prescription.

Pharmacies aren’t hard enough on people trying to buy the drugs and they are too easy to get online and even in high street pharmacies, experts say.

In a BBC documentary study, a man managed to buy eight boxes of codeine – a total of 240 pills – in just 45 minutes at seven pharmacies in London.

The UK is now faced with a similar route to the US, where a crisis of prescription drug addiction has resulted in approximately 17,000 people dying of overdose every year in recent years.

Dr. Michael Mosley (photo) managed to buy eight boxes of codeine without prescription at high street pharmacies in South London. Only two of the seven pharmacies he visited asked him the questions that pharmacists should ask before issuing the medication

Dr. Michael Mosley (photo) managed to buy eight boxes of codeine without prescription at high street pharmacies in South London. Only two of the seven pharmacies he visited asked him the questions that pharmacists should ask before issuing the medication

Dr. Nicholas Browne, a GP in Salford, Greater Manchester, told the BBC that he thinks something similar could happen within the next five years.

“It is something that I am very thinking about and very concerned or concerned about,” Dr. Browne told investigator Dr. Michael Mosley, a qualified physician and a journalist.

He was interviewed for the upcoming BBC Two documentary Addicted To Painkillers? The Opioid Crisis of Great Britain, which is broadcast this Thursday, January 16 at 9 p.m.

“We are already seeing signs that that is happening,” said Dr. Browne. “And I can easily see that in the medium term, over the next five years, it is sliding in that we will gradually see an ever-increasing overdose rate.”

Prescriptions have more than doubled in 20 years and in 2017-18 5.6 million adults (one in eight) were prescribed an opioid in England, according to Public Health England (PHE).

The number of deaths from opioids has increased since OxyContin entered the market in 1996, from just 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017, official figures show

The number of deaths from opioids has increased since OxyContin entered the market in 1996, from just 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017, official figures show

The number of deaths from opioids has increased since OxyContin entered the market in 1996, from just 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017, official figures show

A PHE report revealed that more than half a million people who have prescribed opioids have been using them continuously for more than three years.

The longer people use the drugs, the more their bodies learn to tolerate them and the higher the doses they have to take to have the right effect.

It also becomes harder and harder to stop taking and as soon as the body becomes addicted, suddenly stopping it can have fatal consequences.

In 2017-18, the NHS spent nearly £ 240 million on opioid pain killers.

Of this, £ 12 million was spent on codeine recipes, nearly £ 27 million on tramadol, £ 47 million on fentanyl and more than £ 50 million on oxycodone.

WHAT IS THE US OPIOID EPIDEMIC?

The opioid crisis in the US is caused by a huge number of prescriptions for the powerful pain killers.

Prescriptions for them are popular because they are effective, well-tolerated pain killers.

But if people build up tolerance for the drugs, they run the risk of taking too much.

In 2017 and 2018, opioids were involved in more than 47,000 deaths, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – overdoses directly caused around 17,000 deaths in each of those years.

For comparison: in 1999 there were fewer than 4,000 deaths from opioids.

Many overdoses are caused by the drug fentanyl, which is dozens of times stronger than morphine and can surprise users.

The longer people use opioids, which they might have originally prescribed after an injury or operation, the higher their tolerance and the more they have to take to have the same effect.

This can lead to people eventually taking too much and killing themselves or trying to switch to a more powerful drug and overestimating how much they should take.

One brand, OxyContin, a drug called oxycodone, has been blamed for many of these deaths by critics who claim it led an aggressive marketing campaign in the 1990s that led to higher prescriptions.

The producer, Purdue Pharma, owned by the billionaire Sackler family, faces more than 2,000 lawsuits for which it has offered to pay up to $ 12 billion (£ 9 billion).

Purdue filed for bankruptcy in September in an attempt to pay it off in the gigantic battle.

It also spent nearly £ 32 million in drugs to treat people who were addicted to painkillers – more than 3.1 million prescriptions were made in that category.

In the US, opioids – in particular fentanyl, which can be tens of times stronger than morphine and oxycodone – have caused an increase in deaths from overdoses in recent years.

The number of people who died from prescription drug overdose increased from just 3,442 in 1999 to 17,029 in 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One brand, OxyContin, a drug called oxycodone, has been blamed for many of these deaths by critics who claim it led an aggressive marketing campaign in the 1990s that led to higher prescriptions.

The producer, Purdue Pharma, owned by the billionaire Sackler family, faces more than 2,000 lawsuits for which it has offered to pay up to $ 12 billion (£ 9 billion).

Purdue filed for bankruptcy in September in an attempt to pay it off in the gigantic battle.

Despite the strong potential of opioids for addiction, Dr. discovered Mosley that pharmacists in the UK distribute them without following the correct procedures.

He managed to buy them online using a fake name and also found that only two of the seven London pharmacies he visited asked him the necessary questions about who the patient is, what their symptoms are, how long they occur, what action has been taken and what other medicines may be taken.

He informed the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC), which regulates British pharmacies, and banned the online pharmacy from selling opioids.

However, there are online pharmacies that have addresses in the UK but that are based abroad and therefore fall outside the scope of the GPhC.

Dr. Cathy Stannard, an opioid expert, told the BBC that it was a “big unknown problem.”

She added: “I have seen so few people addicted to these drugs.

“And when I see them, they are all very high-performing people in busy jobs with busy lives, who handle well, handle well despite their addiction, so (it is) a masked addiction, functioning well if you want.”

Professor Helen Stokes Lampard, former president of the Royal College of GPs, said: “There were not many options in recent years and opioids were high on the list of what we were encouraged to use.

“If we are now part of a system where people are addicted to things, we must do everything we can to help prescribe these patients.”

Dr. Mosley’s program will be broadcast on Thursday, January 16 at 9 p.m. on BBC Two.

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