Gabapentin and pregabalin reclassified as controlled drugs

From this April, gabapentin and pregabalin have been reclassified as controlled drugs under Schedule 3 of the Misuse of Drug Regulations 2001 and Class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. This makes the possession of these drugs without a prescription and their sale or supply to others illegal. However, they are exempted from the safe custody requirements under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1973, meaning they do not require storage in a locked cabinet or safe.

Gabapentin and pregabalin are GABA analogues indicated for the treatment of epilepsy and neuropathic pain; pregabalin is also licensed for generalised anxiety disorder. They have been reclassified as a result of recommendations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) to the government following concerns about their misuse potential.

The reclassification means that, in addition to the normal requirements for prescription-only medicines, prescriptions for gabapentin and pregabalin must comply with certain extra requirements for controlled drugs such as a clearly defined dose (‘as directed’ is not acceptable), date on which it was signed, address of the prescriber, formulation and total quantity of the preparation in both words and figures.

The Department of Health and Social Care also strongly recommends that the maximum quantity of any Schedule 3 drugs prescribed should not exceed 30 days. Emergency supply is not permitted (there must be a valid controlled drug prescription to obtain supplies from a pharmacy) and it is illegal to supply pregabalin and gabapentin through repeat dispensing (although signed repeat prescriptions can continue on a monthly basis by the practice).

Patients or their representatives will need to sign for and show proof of identity when they collect their prescriptions for gabapentin or pregabalin.



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