Professor Malcolm Lader OBE died on 7 August 2020 following a short illness. Professor Lader was a leader in addictions research with a focus on psychopharmacology. He became world renowned for his research on benzodiazepines when they were being promoted as a harm-free alternative to barbiturates. His work on dependence and withdrawal from benzodiazepine drugs still informs clinical practice and research today.

Professor Lader was president of the SSA for 10 years, from 1982 to 1992, during which time he established the annual meeting, symposium and society lectures as well as negotiating a new constitution. Professor Lader was also a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and of the Academy of Medical Sciences, he was vice-president of the International College of Psychopharmacology, a member of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, chair of the Technical Committee and a founding editor of the journal Biological Psychology. He was awarded an OBE in 1996. He is remembered as a generous and friendly colleague who supported his co-workers and who was always keen to learn, starting an Open University law degree in 2005.

When he was interviewed in 2005, he was asked what his main professional achievement was:

“I think the major achievement has been to give emphasis to the need that if a doctor prescribes medication, he or she must have to think their way right through to the end and how they are going to discontinue it. It does not sound like a major achievement, but I think it is. It means that we will not be overtaken again by a benzodiazepine‐type disaster that gives a great deal of symptomatic distress to a large number of patients world‐wide. Safeguards are now in place, for example, if a company today is developing a new psychotropic drug, they have to spend quite a deal of effort on showing what happens when you try to stop. That, in terms of number of people times symptomatic distress, is the most important thing that I have done.”

Our thoughts and sympathies go to his family and friends at this time.


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