NICE media statement : medicines and prescribing



Responding to Public Health England (PHE) first ever evidence review of dependence and withdrawal problems associated with five commonly prescribed classes of medicines in England,

Dr Paul Chrisp, director of the Centre for Guidelines at NICE, said: “We welcome this important work from Public Health England.

“NICE is developing a guideline on the safe prescribing and withdrawal of prescribed drugs. The proposed scope of this guideline should complement the evidence review. We are consulting on the proposed scope until the end of the month.

“Antidepressants are one of the groups of medicines included in the PHE evidence review. Ensuring patients are able to safely discontinue using antidepressants, when they are no longer clinically required, is a topic which requires careful investigation because there is limited high quality data in this area.

“We are currently updating our guideline on the diagnosis and management of depression in adults. As part of that work and following public consultation on an initial draft guideline last year, the independent guideline committee has now looked at the most up-to-date evidence on managing the symptoms that can occur when people stop taking their antidepressant medication.

“The recommendation on this aspect of care aligns with the evidence review. We hope the guideline will allow people with depression to be offered the best care, and when to safely stop or change their treatment, in accordance with their preferences and values.”


Notes to editors:

Five classes of medicines were included in the review:

  • Benzodiazepines (mainly prescribed for anxiety and insomnia)
  • Z-drugs (insomnia)
  • Gabapentinoids (neuropathic pain)
  • Opioid pain medications (for chronic non-cancer pain such as low back pain and injury-related and degenerative joint disease)
  • Antidepressants (depression)