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Are amphetamines any use?


Illicit teenage amphetamine use is a cause for continuing concern in Britain; many have also been worried for a long time by the continuing dependence on these drugs of older members of the community.1 The risks of toxic psychoses and dependence on these drugs, especially amphetamines, dexamphetamines and methyl-amphetamine (Methedrine - BW) are well documented,2 and the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health has recently drawn the attention of all doctors to the need to avoid the substitution of such substances for cocaine as prescribing of the latter becomes more restricted. Widespread prescribing and the multiplicity of available preparations require retail pharmacists and wholesalers to maintain large supplies, The thefts which largely supply the illicit market are thus made easier. In 1966 3.7 million National Health Service prescriptions were dispensed for some 100 million tablets of amphetamines or substances with similar actions (e.g. phenmetrazine and other appetite suppressants). Not only tablets, but EC 10 prescription forms are stolen and altered or corrupted, especially to obtain amphetamines. This is a danger to which doctors should become particularly alert. Yet amphetamines are potentially hazardous drugs with limited indications. Is there any justfication for prescribing them at all? (Amphetamine-barbiturate mixtures have been discussed in an earlier article.3)

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