Sleeping pill ban 'a surprise'

THE SLEEPING pill Halcion was finally banned in the UK yesterday when the Government's Licensing Authority revoked all licences for the drug whose generic name is triazolam, writes Celia Hall.

The decision has surprised the drug's makers, Upjohn, as a recent Department of Health review committee found in its favour. Yesterday Upjohn released details of this report.

Halcion first became available in the UK in 1979. It was a popular sleeping pill because its short 'life' in the body, meant that a morning-after hangover could be avoided. In 1988 world-wide sales reached pounds 265m.

But other side effects were reported including potentially dangerous personality changes. Investigations by government agencies began in this country after an American court case revealed errors in a report of a clinical trial produced by Upjohn.