Drink and Drugs News DDN November 2018 - Page 5

Read the full stories, and more, online www.drinkanddrugsnews.com TIME TO PUBLISH ‘EVIDENCE BASED’ ALCOHOL STRATEGY A NEW GOVERNMENT ALCOHOL STRATEGY needs to ‘lead the way internationally’ in reducing the damage caused by alcohol misuse, according to a document from the Drugs, Alcohol and Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Alcohol Harm. The Alcohol Charter – which is published in consultation with Alcohol Concern, Alcohol Research UK, the Institute for Alcohol Studies and the Alcohol Health Alliance, and backed by 30 other organisations including Cancer Research UK, Blenheim and Adfam – says a new strategy is essential to protect public health, improve support and address alcohol-related crime. It wants to see the government outline ‘concrete measures’ to moderate harmful drinking and address England’s million-plus annual alcohol-related hospital admissions. Without action, alcohol is set to cost the NHS £17bn over the next five years and lead to 135,000 cancer deaths over the next 20, it states. An effective alcohol strategy will need to tackle the increased availability of cheap alcohol, provide proper support for dependent and non-dependent drinkers, and ‘empower the public to make fully informed decisions’ about consumption. It should also be based on the ‘evidence of what works’ to reduce alcohol harm, as outlined in PHE’s alcohol evidence review. Among the specific measures called for are the intro - duction of minimum pricing ‘following the lead of other home nations’, adding a 1 per cent levy to alcohol duties to fund treatment, and mandating local councils to provide a ring-fenced resource for treatment and early intervention services. Councils also need to address the issue of age inequalities in existing services and provide adequate provision for people with complex needs, it stresses. The charter also calls for statutory minimum require - ments for labelling, including health warnings, tighter restrictions on marketing – also enforced by statutory regulation – and a government-funded programme of health campaigns ‘without industry involvement’. PHE’s recent partnership with Drinkaware for the ‘Drink Free Days’ campaign proved controversial and led to the resig - nation of Professor Sir Ian Gilmore as co-chair of PHE’s alcohol leader ship board (DDN, October, page 5). ‘With dozens of alcohol-related deaths across the UK every day, we decided that rather than wait ages for the government’s alcohol strategy we should promote a programme of actions which could reduce harm levels dramatically,’ said co-chair of the Drugs, Alcohol & Justice Cross-Party Parliamentary Group, Mary Glindon MP. ‘This Alcohol Charter is an important document which outlines many policies that the AHA has been calling for,’ added Gilmore in his capacity as Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA) chair. ‘The MaRy Glindon MP government needs to ensure that the upcoming alcohol strategy includes evidence-based policies which work to reduce alcohol harm and tackle the increased availability of super cheap alcohol. The best ways to do that are by introducing minimum unit pricing in England – which we already have in Scotland and will soon have in Wales – and increasing alcohol duty.’ Document at blenheimcdp.org.uk/news/alcohol-charter ‘Rather than wait ages for the government’s alcohol strategy we should promote a programme of actions.’ DUTERTE 2? HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS have expressed grave concerns about the victory of right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro in the Brazilian presidential election. Bolsonaro had campaigned with an ‘openly anti-human-rights agenda’, said Amnesty International. The new president has promised to grant prior authorisation for law enforcement officials to kill, and told Time magazine that president Duterte of the Philippines ‘did the right thing for his country’. www.drinkanddrugsnews.com bolsonaro: duterte ‘did the right thing’ UN-SUCCESSFUL THE UN’S TEN-YEAR STRATEGY to eradicate the international illegal drugs market has been a ‘spectacular failure of policy’, says an IDPC report. More than 30 jurisdictions still have the death penalty for drugs offences on their statute books, with almost 4,000 people executed over the last decade, the document states. President Duterte’s crackdown on drug users in the Philippines has seen around 27,000 extrajudicial killings, while restricted access to controlled medicines has left 75 per cent of the world’s population without proper access to pain relief. UNODC strategy is based on a ‘discredited “war on drugs” approach that continues to generate a catastrophic impact on health, human rights, security and development, while not even remotely reducing the global supply of illegal drugs’, it says. Taking stock: a decade of drug policy at idpc.net SPECIALIST PRESCRIPTIONS DOCTORS are now able to legally issue prescriptions for cannabis-based medicines for the government has announced. This summer saw a review of the products following high- profile stories about the concerned parents of children with severe epilepsy (DDN, July/August, page 5). The decision to prescribe the products, however, will need to be made by a specialist doctor rather than a GP. DIFFERENT CLASS THE PRESCRIPTION DRUGS gabapentin and pregabalin are to be reclassified as class C substances from next April, the government has announced. Gabapentin was developed as an anticonvulsant for epilepsy but is mostly prescribed for nerve pain such as sciatica, while pregabalin is used to treat both nerve pain and anxiety. The ACMD, however, has previously raised concerns about misuse and illegal diversion. While the drugs will still be available on prescription there will be stronger controls to ‘ensure accountability’ and minimise the chance of them ‘falling into the wrong hands or being stockpiled by patients’, the government says. COUNTY CRACKDOWN MORE THAN 200 PEOPLE were arrested as part of a week long period of ‘intensive law enforcement activity’ to tackle county lines drugs gangs, the National Crime Agency (NCA) has announced. Nearly 60 vulnerable people, including children, were also identified and safeguarded. ‘Every territorial police force in England and Wales has now reported some level of county lines activity,’ said NCA national county lines lead Sue Southern. November 2018 | drinkanddrugsnews | 5