An inquiry undertaken by a group of British Members of Parliament has reported that doctors across the country are giving patients dangerously high doses of medicines, which can prove highly addictive.
According to these MPs, painkillers, sleeping tablets and anti-anxiety pills are being handed out to patients "unwittingly" and in complete ignorance of official advice.
According to a report in The Guardian, the British Home Office says this misuse of drugs has led to the death of 17,000 people since the Sixties.
The parliamentary inquiry says that it is quite concerned about the prescription of benzodiazepines, and has recommended guidelines that they not be taken continuously for longer than four weeks.
The paper quoted Dr. Brian Iddon, the Labour MP and former chemist who chaired the group, as telling The Observer: "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. They are not stopping patients from getting any more of them after the set amount of time."
Dr Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said it would take on board the MPs' findings.
Medical experts told the inquiry that an unknown, but growing, number of people had become addicted to painkillers, and according to the MPs, Solpadeine and Nurofen Plus are the two most widely misused such substances.
"Although the reclassification of some substances from prescription-only to over-the-counter has resulted in often significant cost savings for consumers, the abuse or misuse of these substances can result in serious side-effects, such as dependency, addiction, hospitalisation and potentially even death," the MPs have concluded in their report.