Calls for greater pharmacist role in prescription drug dependency

We welcome a report calling for better use of pharmacists expertise

RPS Wales has welcomed a report calling for NHS Wales to make better use of the expertise of pharmacists in cases of prescription drug dependence and withdrawal.


The report is the result of evidence gathering since December 2017 by the National Assembly for Wales’ Petitions Committee to understand the issues of prescription drug dependence. The work focused specifically on the prescribing of antidepressants and benzodiazepines following a petition from a Welsh patient who has suffered as a result of dependency after being prescribed a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI), an antidepressant to treat intermittent insomnia.


RPS Wales was invited to provide evidence to the Committee and stressed the need for harnessing the expertise of pharmacists in identifying dependence and supporting the withdrawal of these medicines. The Committee was also urged to ensure that steps should be taken in Wales to ensure NICE Guidance is adhered to by prescribers to ensure antidepressants are not routinely prescribed for mild depression.


This advice was taken board by the Committee and two key recommendations were made in the report as a result:  

  • Recommendation 3:  The Welsh Government should restate and emphasise antidepressants should not be routinely prescribed for mild depression in guidance to healthcare professionals, and should provide assurances that sufficient alternative treatment options, such as psychological therapies, are available across Wales.  

  • Recommendation 9: NHS Wales should make better use of the expertise of pharmacists to support evidence-based prescribing, patient monitoring including regular patient reviews, and increased provision of help with tapering and withdrawing from medication.  


Commenting on the launch of the report, RPS Director for Wales, Mair Davies, said:  

“We have been concerned about the growing problem of dependency from prescribed medications for some time and fully support the publication of the Petitions Committee report calling for better use of pharmacists in the withdrawal of medicines when dependency is a problem.  

This report should take us a step closer to tackling issues of medication dependency in Wales and we are pleased that our recommendations have been taken on board by the Committee. We look forward to hearing the Minister for Health’s response to the recommendations in due course and supporting the Welsh Government in the development of any future plans to increase patient safety and improve the lives of Welsh patients in this important area”