Guernsey Press

Prescription drug sharing ‘a major problem in island’

GUERNSEY has a major problem with prescription drugs being passed to others, the vice-president of Health and Social Care has warned.

Deputy Marc Leadbeater, left, and Deputy Al Bouard. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 33206314)

Deputy Marc Leadbeater said that while there had been a lot of talk about how medicinal cannabis was being used by people who had obtained it from those with prescriptions, there was a far bigger issue.

‘There’s been a real big problem in Guernsey with the diversion of prescription medication across the board for decades now,’ he told a Scrutiny panel hearing with HSC.

‘People are making a big deal – and rightly so – about medicinal cannabis being potentially diverted, but we’ve had fentanyl being diverted, opioids being diverted, that have been killing people in Guernsey for a considerable period of time.’

There was a real issue with this and something needed to be done about what was an ‘age old problem’.

The rates of prescription for opioid replacement drugs had decreased in recent years, however.

‘We don’t have people addicted to heroin in Guernsey, they are addicted to diverted opiate replacement therapy,’ he said. ‘We were actually creating those addicts.’

But in the last few years that number had come down from about 160 to about 75 people using the therapy.

This had been partly achieved by having that particular medication administered directly at the pharmacy.

Chief pharmacist Teena Bhogal said a lot of work was being done with Home Affairs to gather data on the problem, rather than relying on anecdotal information.

In response to a question from panel member Deputy Andrea Dudley-Owen, she said that information was also being collated from child services about the use of cannabis or other prescription medicines by vulnerable children.

Deputy Dudley-Owen had said earlier that 13,200 prescriptions for medicinal cannabis were issued last year and asked if this was in line with forecasts and were National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines being followed.

The previous committee had drastically underestimated the number of people who would be interested in obtaining cannabis on prescription, said Deputy Leadbeater.

The figures did not equate to people and each patient might get 12 prescriptions over the course of the year.

Most recently there were about 1,550 people being prescribed the drug.

Deputy Dudley-Owen wondered if there were figures relating to the number of admissions to Crevichon Ward at the PEH of people suffering psychosis.

Deputy Leadbeater said these figures had not been collected so far but would be.