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HSE to inform Medical Council of persistently poor prescribers

HSE data on doctors who over-prescribe benzodiazepines and z-drugs will now be shared with the Medical Council in cases where they fail to engage on the matter, the regulator’s President has told the Medical Independent.

Dr Rita Doyle also confirmed that the High Court recently temporarily banned a doctor from prescribing benzodiazepines, following a process initiated by the Council.

“That is the hammer; we don’t want to start with a hammer, we want to support doctors to help them say ‘no’. But if poor prescribers do not engage with us or with the services [available] and don’t make any efforts, then we can proceed to a Medical Council process and fitness to practise process… ”

Dr Doyle said doctors receive from the HSE a record of their benzodiazepine and z-drug prescribing, which shows how they compare against the average. According to the Council President, a small number of doctors are very poor prescribers.

“The HSE has that data. They will now share that data with us if they are not getting any response from the doctors. To date, all they did was write to the doctor and say ‘your prescribing is above the average, there are certain support systems available’, but if the doctor didn’t avail of that, there was nothing further they could do about it, but now they can share that data with us.”

Dr Doyle also confirmed that the Medical Council position on pregabalin (Lyrica) is that it should be categorised in law as a controlled drug.

“I think it is a lot of senior thinkers’ position on it,” commented Dr Doyle.

Last month, the Council issued a statement warning doctors to “reduce over-prescribing of benzodiazepines, z-drugs and pregabalin or face potential investigation”.

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