A review of the dependence, discontinuation or withdrawal symptoms associated with prescribed medicines

The parliamentary under secretary of state for public health and primary care has commissioned Public Health England (PHE) to conduct a public health focused review of the evidence on dependence, and the short-term discontinuation or longer-term withdrawal symptoms associated with prescribed medicines. Namely focusing on commonly prescribed medicines authorised for adults who have non-cancer pain, anxiety, insomnia or depression.

The review brings together the best available evidence on:

•     prevalence and prescribing patterns
•     the nature and likely causes of dependence or discontinuation syndrome among some people who take these medicines
•     effective prevention and treatment of dependence and discontinuation syndrome for each drug category.

What we are doing

As part of this work, a rapid evidence assessment was commissioned focussing on five key areas. These are:

  • the harms associated with dependence, discontinuation or withdrawal of these medicines
  • the risk factors for dependence, discontinuation or withdrawal of these medicines
  • interventions for the prevention or treatment of dependence, discontinuation or withdrawal of these medicines
  • patients’ experience of dependence, discontinuation or withdrawal of these medicines
  • current examples of services to prevent or treat dependence, discontinuation or withdrawal of these medicines.

What we have produced

Review of the evidence on harms associated with dependence, and the short term discontinuation and longer term withdrawal symptoms from prescribed medicines.

Review of the evidence on factors contributing to risk of harms associated with dependence, short term discontinuation and longer term withdrawal symptoms from prescribed medicines.

Review of the evidence on interventions for prevention or treatment of dependence, short term discontinuation and longer term withdrawal symptoms associated with prescribed medicines.

Review of the evidence on patients’ experience of dependence, short term discontinuation and longer term withdrawal symptoms associated with prescribed medicines.

Review of the evidence of current practice examples of services providing treatment for dependence, short term discontinuation and longer term withdrawal symptoms associated with prescribed medicines.