ADDICTIVE painkillers will carry clear warnings on the label to stop patients getting hooked in a major crackdown by ministers.
Medication to soothe pain for those diagnosed with cancer or recovering from surgery will be targeted.
Popping pills can ease pain but there can also be a risk of addiction[/caption]
Misuse of opioid treatment, such as morphine or fentanyl, can be fatal and threaten breathing and the central nervous system.
They can be prescribed by doctors but weaker alternatives such as codeine-based painkillers available over the counter in pharmacies.
Opioid medications were given to patients outside of hospitals 23 million times last year – up from 14 million ten years ago – which is an increase of 60 per cent.
Codeine-related deaths have also more than doubled in the past ten years.
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show there are 11,500 people admitted to hospital a year for overdosing on opioids.
The new measures will mean the sedatives will carry a clear warning saying they can cause dependency and that they contain opioids.
NHS brek bid
HEALTH bosses are spending up to 40 per cent more on tea and coffee for patients than neighbouring hospitals, it has emerged.
A crackdown on breakfast costs is under way at 19 NHS Trusts in a bid to save £500,000 a year.
Ministers want chiefs to team up to boost purchasing power to help save a third off the health service’s brekkie bill.
Minister for Health Stephen Hammond said: “By signing up to this deal, hospitals could save thousands of pounds every year that can help us improve services through our NHS Long Term Plan.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Painkillers were a major breakthrough in modern medicine and are hugely important to help people manage pain alongside their busy lives – but they must be treated with caution.
“We know that too much of any painkiller can damage your health, and some opioids are highly addictive and can ruin lives like an illegal drug.
“Things are not as bad here as in America, but we must act now to protect people from the darker side to painkillers.
Codeine would carry a warning about potential addiction[/caption]
“We need to place a greater focus on making sure that these medicines are used appropriately and for pain management alone, and make sure people are fully aware of the risks.”
Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England said: “We know that long-term use of painkillers can lead to life-altering and sometimes fatal addictions – so I am delighted to see measures put in place to raise awareness of the risks of codeine and prescribed drugs.
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“It is vital that anyone who is prescribed strong painkillers takes them only as long as they are suffering from serious pain.
“As soon as the pain starts to alleviate, the drugs have done their job, and it is important to switch to over-the-counter medication like paracetamol which do not carry the same risk of addiction that comes with long term use.”
Public Health England are already undertaking a review into prescription medication addiction, due later this year.
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