London, Feb 10 : Doctors are unintentionally getting Britons hooked to prescription drugs, by giving patients dangerously high doses of medicines that can prove highly addictive, according to a parliamentary investigation in the country.
GPs close their eyes to official advice that patients should not take powerful tranquillisers such as Valium for more than four weeks, says an all-party parliamentary group on drug misuse.
The report will point the finger at some family doctors who hand out repeated prescriptions to people for painkillers, sleeping tablets and anti-anxiety pills without even seeing them.
"Some GPs are addicting people by giving them repeat prescriptions without checking to see how long they've been on the drugs in the first place," the Telegraph quoted Dr Brian Iddon, the Labour MP who chairs the group, as saying.
"The guidelines state that people taking these drugs should be observed very carefully by their doctors to see whether a physical dependence is setting in, but some GPs are not doing this.
"From the written evidence we have received, it is obvious that some GPs are not stopping patients from getting any more of them after the set amount of time," he added.
The inquiry into prescription and over-the-counter medicines began last year when there was a growing concern that such drugs are being handed out too freely to patients.
According to last year's figures, the number of prescriptions given to patients had increased by 27 per cent in the past five years, at a cost of 10 billion pounds a year to the NHS.
The investigation is also expected to conclude that family doctors are fuelling the problems linked to prescription and over-the-counter drugs by not taking seriously enough requests for help from addicts.
Medical experts told the inquiry that an unknown, but growing, number of people had become addicted to painkillers, often after taking them initially for a genuine medical complaint such as a sore back, period pains or bad headaches.
The committee will publish its final conclusions in the autumn, but initial results show that some doctors are still neglectfully prescribing medication.