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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

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Calls for controls in Barrow to stop methadone ‘stockpiling’

TIGHTER rules have been called for to stop methadone being stockpiled and sold on the black market.

The highly potent drug is prescribed to help drug addicts manage their withdrawals from heroin.

But police say some users are known to sell on their supply – increasing the risk of fatal overdoses.

A meeting was held at Barrow MP John Woodcock’s office in July to discuss the way methadone is prescribed in Furness.

Detective chief inspector Bob Qazi, of Barrow CID, said: “The general consensus from the meeting was that if people take their methadone as and when it is prescribed it would prevent stockpiling.

“Although it is not all methadone users, some people do sell it on, we know that.”

DCI Qazi said selling or passing on the drug is illegal, but it is difficult for police to prevent people from stockpiling their own prescription methadone.

Nicola Alderton, 43, from Ireleth, has campaigned for tighter rules ever since her 19-year-old daughter Beatrice Alderton overdosed on methadone in Ulverston three years ago.

She had pushed for the meeting, which was also attended by Dr Geoff Jolliffe, lead GP for Furness, and south and east Cumbria coroner Ian Smith.

Miss Alderton said: “I’m happy-ish with the meeting. But until something is actually done I’m a bit apprehensive.”

She commented that pharmacies should prevent their patients taking methadone away, in favour of supervised distribution.

Figures from the coroner’s office show there were seven inquests into drug-related deaths in 2013, and all saw methadone listed as a contributory factor.

Miss Alderton also said she was disappointed that Unity, the drug and alcohol recovery service contracted to run the distribution of methadone in Furness, failed to attend the meeting.

Mr Woodcock said: “I fully supported Nicola’s campaign to introduce tighter controls on methadone. Following the meeting, I have written to Unity asking for information on trends in methadone used locally and the success rates of rehabilitation programmes.

“When that information arrives we can have a clearer picture about the scale of the problem and examine ways of bringing in tighter controls.”

A statement from Unity said: “We have a robust process in place for prescribing controlled drugs which involves working closely with our local pharmacies and other partners in accordance with national clinical guidelines.”

It said representatives have been in contact Mr Woodcock since the meeting.

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