North West Wales

Anglesey drug deaths by methadone prompts coroner's warning

Methadone bottles
Image caption Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board said prescribing methadone was a complex issue

Prescribed methadone is a common cause of an ever increasing number of drug deaths on Anglesey, a coroner claims.

Dewi Pritchard-Jones, coroner for north west Wales, said GPs should prescribe the drug in smaller doses so it could not be hoarded.

Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board said the prescription of methadone was a complex issue.

The coroner was speaking at the inquests in Llangefni of three people who died from drug and alcohol abuse.

He recorded two verdicts of abuse of drugs and a third of abuse of alcohol on Thursday.

Methadone is used to help wean addicts off heroin and mimics the effects of the illegal drug, but is less addictive.

Mr Prichard-Jones, who sits on a committee analysing drug deaths in north Wales, said efforts were being made to remove methadone from the streets by prescribing it in small bottles, or requiring patients to consume it at pharmacies.

But the coroner believes some people who are prescribed the drug sell it to buy heroin instead.

'Wider risk'

A spokesman for Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said prescribing methadone was a complex issue that required a careful assessment of clients' needs.

He added: "In rural areas, consideration must be given to the distance a service user would need to travel to reach a pharmacy and whether transport was an issue.

"Consumption at the pharmacy is a preferred option but it is not always feasible and we must balance the risk of the service user falling out of a treatment programme with that of the wider risk to the community.

"In terms of lower doses, this is not always the most appropriate option as there as specific guidelines on dosage that individuals would need."

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