New reclassification for prescription medicines pregabalin and gabapentin from April 1st.
Following advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and after a public consultation, gabapentinoids are to be reclassified following concerns over misuse.
Pregabalin and gabapentin are to be reclassified after being associated with a growing number of drug related deaths. Both medicines now come under Schedule 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 and Class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Gabapentinoids are used for treating neuropathic pain, seizures and anxiety however they have also become synonymous with illicit use. NHS Scotland figures published in June 2018 revealed gabapentinoids had been prescribed prior to a fifth of drug-related deaths in Scotland in 2016. Misuse of gabapentinoids, often in combination with opioids, is becoming more prevalent and recognised in specialist drug and alcohol services.
Following a consultation on the status of gabapentinoids, which closed in January 2018, the UK government has decided to reclassify the medicines but not to apply the requirements for safe custody.
Gapapentinoids – what you need to know
There are new time limits for dispensing and and restrictions in prescribed quantity. Here is what you need to know:
- It is illegal to possess controlled substances without a prescription
- it is illegal to sell or otherwise supply controlled substances to others
- under the new classification, pharmacists will not be able to accept electronic prescriptions for pregabalin and gabapentin, although an impact assessment from the government says that this “may be mitigated in the future if the Electronic Prescribing System (EPS) can be used to prescribe controlled drugs electronically instead
- prescriptions of pregabalin and gabapentin will be limited to 30 days’ treatment
- repeat prescriptions will not be issued
- any prescription received must be dispensed within 28 days.