Doctor slammed for Roma claims

A doctor in Lund has been criticized by the Swedish health board for over-prescribing Flunitrazepam - a drug formerly marketed as Rohypnol - to his Roma patients.

Arguing that the addictive substance is the only sedative that works on this particular group, the doctor says that he has prescribed the medication to around 100 Roma patients.

“I don’t know why it is, but completely independently of each other they have all told me that the other substances have no effect,” the physician told Sydsvenska Dagbladet.

The doctor believes that there may be a genetic explanation. By examining his patients’ family histories, he has concluded that the Roma populations in Malmö and Lund are often related to each other.

But the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) contends that some of the doctor’s patients are drug addicts who have used him to get their hands on the potent sedative.

In some cases, the drugs are reported to have been made available for resale on the black market. The doctor however has dismissed these claims as “lies and deceit”.

Flunitrazepam, which is banned in the USA, is used only sparingly in the Swedish healthcare system.

Tom Palmstierna, head of a Stockholm drug treatment centre and a researcher at the Karolinska Institute, describes Flunitrazepam as an extremely addictive substance. He warns that the doctor may in fact be making the situation worse by over-prescribing the drug to a group that already finds itself in a vulnerable position.