The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) welcomes the decision to classify pregabalin and gabapentin as Class C controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act (1971) from the 1 April 2019. This makes it a crime to possess or supply these medicines without an appropriate prescription.
The HSCB has been working over the last number of years to highlight the risks associated with an increased misuse of a number of prescription drugs including pregabalin and gabapentin. The HSCB communicated these concerns to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and also the Home Office, who subsequently conducted their own investigation and a consultation which led to a change to the legislation.
Head of Pharmacy at the Health and Social Care Board Joe Brogan said:
“The reclassification of pregabalin and gabapentin as Class C Controlled drugs is a positive step in tackling the misuse of these potentially dangerous and powerful drugs.
“We recognise the devastating and debilitating impact that drug and alcohol addiction has on the lives of individuals and their families. Over the last 10 years we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of drug related deaths, often as a result of the misuse of a combination of prescription medicines, alcohol and illicit drugs such as heroin.
“Prescription drugs are potential poisons, particularly if they haven’t been prescribed for the individual by a qualified clinician, if the wrong dose is taken, if they are mixed with alcohol or other substances, or if they have come through an unregulated supply route and potentially could contain anything.”