NHS Wales
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Warning to public that 'prescription' sedatives sold online carry serious health risks

The WEDINOS Annual Report for 2020-21, published by Public Health Wales, has identified that substitutions in the illicit sales of the sedative Diazepam remains alarmingly high, with 57.3 percent of samples submitted not containing any diazepam at all. 

Health experts warn that these drugs, often bought easily on line can have serious implications on people’s health as they have no idea what they are actually ingesting, and at what dose.  

Josie Smith, Head of Substance Misuse for Public Health Wales and Programme Lead for WEDINOS said: “The concerns for public health remain as these products are not pharmaceutical grade and, despite their appearance, they are counterfeit. Counterfeit products, as evidenced by WEDINOS can contain different substances and dose ranges.  

“This means that individuals who consume these products are not aware of the dose, time of onset of effects, duration of effects or contraindications with other substances or medications and as a consequence are at higher risk of potential health and other harms. 

“We would urge anyone requiring this medication to always speak to and source it through a health professional, with a prescription.” 

Following easing of Coronavirus restrictions, WEDINOS has seen a substantial rise in activity over the last twelve months, with an increase of 92.6 percent in sample submissions.  

Along with the re-opening of night time economy venues and the return of music festivals, community submissions increased by almost 60 percent, evidencing a heightened awareness of the WEDINOS service and its benefits in harm reduction.  

With this increased number of samples, WEDINOS has also seen a 14.6 percent increase in the number of substances identified. Benzodiazepines has remained the most commonly identified chemical group of psychoactive substances for half a decade. During 2021-22, a total of 20 benzodiazepines were profiled, with diazepam being both the most commonly submitted substance by purchase intent. 

This Year 2021/22: 

  • 7,457 samples received representing an increase of 92.6 percent from 2020/21.  
  • 6,345 analysed 85.7 percent. 
  • Community samples increased by 59.5 percent to 4,684. 
  • 181 substances identified 14.6 percent. 
  • 90 different organisations, services and NTE venues 73.1 percent. 
  • Median age of sample providers 32 years (range 14 to 80 years). 
  • Cocaine was the most commonly identified substance. 
  • Most commonly identified in the community was cocaine, followed by diazepam. 
  • Criminal justice settings – Mirtazapine was the most commonly identified substance, however, more samples were profiled as “no active compound”. 

Public Health Wales produces reports and information to influence national and international policy to ensure it is based on the best evidence to protect and improve health. 

The full report can be downloaded below:

WEDINOS Annual Report 2021-2022

Those seeking to receive support for drug or alcohol related concerns can contact the Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline on Freephone 0808 808 2234, by texting DAN to: 81066 or by visiting dan247.org.uk 

DAN 247 - Wales Drug and Alcohol Helpline

More information on WEDINOS is available on the website below: 

WEDINOS

More information on substance misuse from Public Health Wales is available on the web page below:

Substance Misuse - Drugs & Alcohol

Channel website: http://www.wales.nhs.uk

Original article link: https://phw.nhs.wales/news/warning-to-public-that-prescription-sedatives-sold-online-carry-serious-health-risks/

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