In the UK, decisions relating to the use of medicines, devices and surgeries within the NHS are made by a number of regulatory bodies.
These bodies may be national, regional or even local.
In recent years, there has been an increasing trend to make such decisions based solely upon what is known as ‘evidence-based medicine’. This is entirely understandable and reasonable, especially in times when there are such financial constraints on scant resources.
Unfortunately, alcoholism and alcohol-related disorders are not considered as ‘attractive’ or as important as other conditions (e.g. cancer care and HIV).
However, alcohol in all its guises causes significantly greater patient morbodity and mortality than most other ‘proper’ medical conditions. Further, the financial costs of alcohol-related problems (both medical and criminal) to the community and society at large are astronomical. This is in addition to all the other sociological / family complications, such as abuse, violence, divorce, unemployment and poverty.
Alcoholism really IS a major problem for all of us in the UK, and should be treated with the respect it warrants.
We know already that some General Practitioners and specialists within the UK are already prescribing High-Dose Baclofen on the NHS as an ‘off-label’ prescription.
Others would like to prescribe it, but are prohibited by rules dictated by their local NHS Trust.
Phillip Thomas’s own experience is probably typical, and he has kindly agreed for his experience to be included here.
“My GP wanted to prescribe me Baclofen, but he said that he wasn’t prepared to because he didn’t know enough about it. Even if he could, he said that he could only go to 100mg a day. He referred me to a psychiatrist with an interest in alcoholism, so that she could prescribe it.
She said that she would like to prescribe it, but that she could not because Baclofen was not on the list of drugs that her NHS Trust allowed her to prescribe for alcoholism; even though it is so cheap safe. She offered me another drug, which is much more expensive, and has no proven role in alcohol cravings either. I refused it. She wrote to my GP telling him that she thought that Baclofen would be a good thing for me, but that she couldn’t give it to me. She also told him that HE could prescribe it for me if he wanted to, and that she would be very interested to see the results.
Because of that letter, my GP finally prescribed Baclofen for me, and would then go to whatever dose I needed. He cannot believe the results – but will still not prescribe it for anybody else. He only gave it to me because I am a doctor, he knows me, and he had seen how well I had done on the Baclofen I was getting over the internet“