DOCTORS are faced with an ongoing problem in prescribing drugs, a coroner has said.

At an inquest into the death of Ashley Page, 43, who died from the fatal toxicity of heroin in combination with other drugs, the coroner highlighted situations where patients give false reasons for needing more prescription drugs than normal.

Coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley said: “In Brighton and Hove we have unremitting deaths from drug use.

“Whether someone is using drugs of medication or drugs of abuse, these drugs gain a street value. This is the problem GPs have. Their patients tell them that they are going off on holiday and they need more medication than normal.

“For years it seems Ashley had been saying to his doctor that he was going on long holidays.”

Mr Page, who died at his home in Crespin Way, Brighton, on Saturday, June 18, suffered from an enduring dependence on opiates and benzodiazepines, which are used to treat anxiety.

Dr Al Punja, his GP at Stanford Medical Centre, said: “He was on a monthly prescription, but would often tell me he was going on holiday for six weeks at a time, to get more medication.”

Prior to his death, Mr Page had been away on holiday with his father in Yarmouth for ten days.

The coroner told the inquest, held in Brighton, that the only substance he was taking was methadone and the other prescription drugs were being sold or not being taken at all.

Ms Hamilton-Deeley praised Dr Punja for his caution in prescribing drugs.

She said: “On this occasion, the numbers fitted the days he was away for.

“At least your practice did not fall into the trap of giving him more.”

Dr Punja said Mr Page had been having this medication since 2001 and it never appeared in the notes that he had been abusing them.

He said: “He was always charming.

“I would always ask him if he was ready to reduce the benzodiazepine drugs, but he would say he wanted to wait until he was off the methadone first.”

Mr Page was described by his father as “great fun to be with” and having “a good sense of humour.”

The coroner said Mr Page could not have had a more supportive father.

On the day he died Mr Page had visited a friend and it appears he had taken their medication.

Detective Sergeant Mark Pinder said: “On the 18th Ashley went to a friend’s address.

“She had an appointment and needed someone to be present to let her son in whilst she was out. But when she came back her son was outside.

“Ashley was inside asleep. When he left, she noticed that six tablets of her medication were missing.

“If he had taken these tablets, that would be a huge dose of pregabalin.”

The coroner recorded a conclusion of misadventure, and said Mr Page had enough heroin in his body to kill him, but that taking this additional drug he was not used to was risky.

She said: “It’s a vicious circle with heroin.

“It makes you feel like a hero, which is why it has that name. It was a drug related death, but I’m quite sure his intention was to live and do it again.”