Further patient concerns re PHE review sent to Matt Hancock

Mick Behan is a veteran campaigner on benzodiazepines and has an extensive knowledge of the subject.  He previously wrote to Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, with concerns about the PHE review on prescribed drug dependence.


Today, he has sent further concerns to Matt Hancock, as follows.

Dear Mr Hancock,

Since I sent you my complaint by email on 21 September 2018 about the PHE review on addiction to medicine, additional information has been posted on the PHE website:


I would therefore like to add the following points to my complaint.

  1. Clinical Trial Evidence

The National Guideline Centre (NGC) has been appointed to conduct a literature review for PHE


The NGC has now issued a call for evidence which explicitly invites pharmaceutical companies to submit unpublished trials to the NGC with prearranged confidentiality offered by the NGC.

The NGC is considering new drugs in this exercise. This is further evidence that the PHE ‘review ‘ of addiction to medicines is in reality a launch platform for anti-addiction drugs.

‘Anti-addiction’ drugs are manufactured by Braeburn, Martindale and most prominently by Indivior who are promoting SUBLOCADE, a depot injection targeting opiate painkiller addicts.

If Sublocade has to rely upon unpublished confidential trials this is a red flashing warning light of another drug disaster in the making.

‘Anti-addiction drugs’ is an oxymoron in itself. No drug can cure the addiction or damage created by a previous drug.

Replacement and substitute drugs have always proved more toxic and addictive than the previous drugs. Each new drug, benzodiazepines, z drugs, SSRIs, has been introduced as safe and non-addictive by their manufacturers.

  1. (See point 3b in the previous email). The exclusion of patient and other dissenting opinions is reinforced by the NGC with no explanation; ‘the views, experiences and opinions of individual professionals, researchers, commentators or patients will not be able to be included’.
  2. Conflicts of Interest (Point 4 in previous email)

PHE has also now published the names of the review’s ‘Project Team’.

These names were anonymised in previous minutes as ‘members of the Project Team’ but are now announced as Pharma heavyweights with significant conflicts of interest – Mike Kelleher, John Marsden and Gary Stillwell.


Also, the Programme Manager is announced as Steve Taylor who is an aggressive campaigner against drug withdrawal services.

There is no mention of expertise in drug-free withdrawal goals within the Project Team. This is the central point of my complaint; the outcome of the review is predetermined by its chairperson, by the members’ links to pharmaceutical companies, by the exclusion of patients and by the ToR.

There are to be no withdrawal services.

The review, which was intended by the Minister to be an investigation of how to reduce addiction to medicine, has been turned by Rosanna O’Connor into a project to prescribe even more drugs.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,


Michael Behan (Former researcher for the office of Jim Dobbin MP and co-founder APPGITA)



Fiona French – Expert patient by experience

John Perrott – Former researcher, APPGITA

Andy D’Alessio – Expert patient by experience

Alyne Duthie – Expert patient by experience

Barry Haslam – Ex-Chair Oldham Tranx

Graham Smith – Expert patient by experience

Pamela Wilson – Expert patient by experience

Jen Hider – Expert patient by experience

Janet Crouch – Expert patient by experience


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