Rutherglen and Cambuslang pharmacies paid almost a quarter of a million pounds to dispense methadone
Sep 12 2012
by Will Henshaw, Rutherglen Reformer
PHARMACIES in Rutherglen and Cambuslang were paid almost £¼ million to dispense methadone last year, figures have revealed.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show the wide extent of the use of the heroin substitute in the county.
Pharmacies in Rutherglen and Cambuslang were paid a total of £231,362 to dish out methadone in the last financial year.
Top of the list was Boots in Rutherglen Main Street, who were paid £51,153 to dispense the green liquid, the highest figure in South Lanarkshire. Second was M&D Green in Dukes Road in Burnside who netted £36,246.
Over 1500 people were prescribed heroin in Lanarkshire last year.
Chemists in the Hamilton, Larkhall, Clydesdale, Motherwell and Bellshill areas were paid almost £410,000 for providing addicts with methadone.
Rutherglen MSP James Kelly said: “Clearly methadone is recognised as a treatment to alter the lifestyles of drug addicts. It’s surprising that such a sum of the money is being spent on it in local chemists. The recent rise in drug death figures by 20 per cent shows, sadly, that the issues around drugs are not going away.
“There needs to be a clear look at this area in terms of not only how we can reduce this number of drugs deaths and produce a strategy that gets drug users off drugs and off methadone and into stable lifestyles.”
Drug-related deaths in Scotland reached a record level last year.
There were 584 such deaths in 2011 - the highest total ever recorded and 20 per cent more than the previous year’s figure of 485.
Last week, in response to a campaign by the Reformer’s sister paper the Daily Record, Scottish Government community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham started an investigation into the prescribing of methadone.
Figures obtained by the Record showed that prescribing methadone to addicts is costing £36m-a- year.
Yet there were no figures to show that the programme was helping addicts kick the drug habit.
There was also evidence that some users were selling methadone on the black market.
The number of people being prescribed heroin substitute methadone in Lanarkshire is higher than it was 10 years ago.
In the NHS Lanarkshire area in 2011, 1507 people were prescribed methadone compared to 1294 in 2002.
Janice Oman, National Pharmacy Association’s representational manager in Scotland, said: “People with drug problems need support within treatment programmes that may include the legal supply of medicine therapies.
“Local pharmacists are on the frontline of treatment programmes for substance misusers and support them to live safe, productive and worthwhile lives with the help of maintenance therapy.
“It has been suggested by the Scottish Government that over one-third of acquisitive crime is related to illegal drug use. Good practice is for a range of health and social care interventions to accompany the medicine therapy.”