The reporting of Scotland’s drug death figures, which have risen year-on-year for the last seven years has made grim reading. The Editor of the Scotsman has said:
We can all agree that this is an extremely complex issue and must include a public health approach that considers the causes of drug misuse as well as how to address the current emergency of unnecessary deaths.
One area that the Scottish Government could tackle now is the contribution of prescribed drugs that can lead to dependence, harm and death. This includes a wide range of drugs that extends well beyond opiate substitutes. Scottish Government figures confirm that the rise in the use of ‘street drugs’ follows a similar trajectory to the increase in prescribed drugs that have the potential for dependence.
For a decade I campaigned for Sunshine legislation to be introduced in Scotland. This would have made it mandatory for all payments to prescribers from the pharmaceutical industry to be openly declared. My intention was that this would reduce the potential for overmedicalisation and prescribing that could result in harm. Despite a public consultation on this issue, where the majority of those consulted were in favour of the introduction of Sunshine legislation, the Scottish Government chose not to act.
The Scottish Government is currently consulting on its response to this petition:
The Scottish Government must demonstrate real leadership to help those suffering now and to reduce future harm and deaths.