Skip to main content
Log in

Benzodiazepine prescribing guideline adherence and misuse potential in Irish minors

  • Short Research Report
  • Published:
International Journal of Clinical Pharmacy Aims and scope Submit manuscript



The Good Prescribing Practice for Clinicians guidelines were published in 2002 in Ireland to guide General Practitioners about prescribing benzodiazepines. There has been no research to-date to measure compliance by General Practitioners. Inappropriate prescribing to minors may result in increased use or misuse of benzodiazepines.


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prescribing of benzodiazepines to minors in Ireland against the Good Prescribing Practice for Clinicians guidelines.


Data for medicines dispensed between January 2009 and December 2012 from the Health Intelligence Ireland database were accessed and analysed. This database contains information about government-subsidised community-pharmacy-dispensed medicines.


Benzodiazepine prescribing to minors increased by 10.2 % between 2009 and 2012. Almost 15 % of patients (n = 2193) were prescribed benzodiazepines for greater than four weeks; which contravenes the guidelines. Approximately half (51.4 %) of prescribers who contravened this guideline, prescribed all their benzodiazepines in quantities of greater than one week, against the recommendations of the guidelines.


The consequences of prescribing against National Guidelines can result in patients who become long-term benzodiazepine users and thus place an increased burden upon the healthcare system. The reasons for non-compliance by GPs should be investigated to find solutions.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.


  1. Longo L, Johnson B. Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines-side effects, abuse risk and alternatives. Am. Fam. Phys. 2000;61(7):2121.

  2. Carlsten A, Waern M. Are sedatives and hypnotics associated with increased suicide risk of suicide in the elderly? BMC Geriatr. 2009;9(1):20–6.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Pae C-U, Koh JS, Lee S-J, Han C, Patkar AA, Masand PS. Association of sedative–hypnotic medications with suicidality. Expert Rev Neurother. 2011;11(3):345–9.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Youssef N, Rich C. Does acute treatment with sedatives/hypnotics for anxiety in depressed patients affect suicide risk? A literature review. Ann. Clin. Psychiatry 2008;20(3):157–69.

  5. Department of Health and Children. Benzodiazepines: good practice guidelines for clinicians. Dublin: Department of Health and Children; 2002. Accessed 12 May 2015.

  6. Health Intelligence Unit. Health Atlas Ireland 2013.

  7. Smith AJ, Tett SE. How do different age groups use benzodiazepines and antidepressants? Analysis of an Australian administrative database, 2003–2006. Drugs Aging. 2009;26(2):113–22.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Steffenak AK, Wilde-Larsson B, Nordstrom G, Skurtveit S, Hartz I. Increase in psychotropic drug use between 2006 and 2010 among adolescents in Norway: a nationwide prescription database study. J Clin Epidemiol. 2012;4:225–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. McLean CP, Asnaani A, Litz BT, Hofmann SG. Gender differences in anxiety disorders: prevalence, course of illness, comorbidity and burden of illness. J Psychiatr Res. 2011;45(8):1027–35.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Linehan C, Kerr MP, Walsh PN, Brady G, Kelleher C, Delanty N, et al. Examining the prevalence of epilepsy and delivery of epilepsy care in Ireland. Epilepsia. 2010;51(5):845–52.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


The authors acknowledge Health Intelligence Ireland for granting permission to access their data. We also acknowledge the assistance of the Pharmaceutical Care Research Group of the School of Pharmacy in University College Cork.


This research received no external funding.

Conflicts of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin D. Murphy.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Murphy, K.D., Sahm, L.J., McCarthy, S. et al. Benzodiazepine prescribing guideline adherence and misuse potential in Irish minors. Int J Clin Pharm 37, 749–752 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: