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Letter to the editor

Editor, I wish to support the view that benzodiazepines have a very limited place in clinical practice. While Dr A. Dinnen ('Letters' Aust Prescr 1994;17:79) may be correct in his view that these drugs are indicated for a small number of psychiatric conditions, his anecdotal evidence is weak, and controlled trials seem to be lacking.

With benzodiazepines now known to worsen the very symptoms for which they are most commonly prescribed, their routine use in anxiety and insomnia is no longer justified. The propensity to induce tolerance within two weeks and the association with hip fractures in the elderly1 are further reasons not to use them. However, I do agree with the suggestion that they be available only on authority. Of course, the commonest indication will be addiction to benzodiazepines.

Andrew Byrne
General Practice Drug and Alcohol
Redfern, N.S.W.

References

  1. Cumming RG, Klineberg RJ. Psychotropics, thiazide diuretics and hip fractures in the elderly. Med J Aust 1993;158:414-7.