The UK government announced last week that Pregabalin and Gabapentin will be reclassified as class C under the misuse of drugs act 1971. This change will take place in April 2019. Class C is the third in the goverment’s three tier system for categorising controlled substances with the least amount of harm compared with those in class A or B. These drugs are used to treat conditions like epilepsy, nerve pain and anxiety.
The Home Office has said these medicines will still be available for legitimate use on prescription by a doctor after the change in the law. These changes mean that doctors will now have to physically sign prescriptions rather than use electronic copies. The medicines will have to be dispensed within 28 days of the prescription being written. The changes mean it will be illegal to possess these medicines without a prescription. It will also be illegal to supply or sell them. This is an effort towards stronger controls accountability and a reduction in the potential for misuse of these medicines. The concerns of these drugs relate to misuse of the medication’s. This may include taking them if you don’t have a prescription or taking them in a way not prescribed by your epilepsy specialist.
The goverment’s decision to reclassify these medicine follows experts highlighting a rising number of deaths linked to their misuse. However according to researchers from the University of Bristol more than four in five deaths(80%) involved the misuse of these medicines alongside street drugs such as Heroin.
This is not the first medicine used for epilepsy to be classified as a class C drug. Midazolam and Diazepam used as emergency medicine for prolonged seizures have been listed as class C for around 30 years.
If you have any concerns about your medicines you can speak to your GP or epilepsy specialist. You can also call the Epilepsy Action helpline free on 08088005050.
source Epilepsy Action.