Pregabalin and gabapentin will be reclassified as class C controlled substances in the UK from April 2019 to reduce the growing number of deaths associated with their misuse.
Pregabalin and gabapentin are prescription-only antiepileptic drugs used for treating epilepsy, peripheral and neuropathic pain. Both drugs are structurally related to the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and can cause elevated mood, particularly when used in combination with other drugs such as opioids.
The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs raised concerns in 2016 about medical misuse, illegal diversion, and addiction associated with pregabalin and gabapentin. It found that pregabalin prescribing had increased by 350% and gabapentin prescribing by 150% in the previous five years.
The council recommended that the two drugs should be reclassified as class C drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act
Regulations implementing the law to reclassify pregabalin and gabapentin will come into force from April 2019. The change will mean that it will be illegal for people to possess pregabalin or gabapentin without a prescription. It will also be illegal to supply or sell the drugs to others.
Prescriptions for controlled medicines
Prescribing Controlled Drugs
Prescriptions for controlled medicines in Schedules 2, 3 are only valid for 28 days.
Prescriptions for Schedule 2 and 3 controlled medicines (except temazepam) must include specific details about the medicine, such as:
• its name and what form it’s in
• strength and dose
• total quantity or number of doses, shown in both words and figures
Pharmacists must record prescriptions for controlled medicines in a special register.
Before supplying the medicine, they must check that the prescription is correctly written. If it’s not, it may need to be rewritten by the prescriber.