Drug 'killing more than heroin'



The Government is set to act after figures revealed a prescription drug was killing more people than heroin.

Benzodiazepines were once called "mother's little helpers" because they numbed the pain of suburban neurosis.

But they are being widely abused and as Home Office figures now show, they are also killing people.

They are being prescribed and then sold on to the streets or imported in increasingly large quantities from abroad making their way into the hands of drug dealers.

The Government is to change the Misuse of Drugs Act as a result and will reschedule benzodiazepines making them subject to import and export controls.

But critics say this does not deal with the legally prescribed drugs being illicitly sold.

And increasingly, these illegally acquired drugs, which are taken in tablet form or crushed and injected are leading to fatal overdoses.

The statistics paint a bleak picture.

In Scotland in 1998 - the most recent figures available - 114 people died from heroin and morphine overdoses. But 151 died from taking benzodiazepines.

In England and Wales between 1990 and 1996, 1,623 people overdosed on heroin, morphine and other opiates while 1,810 died from benzodiazepines.