Advice for patients,  Pharmacy insights

Patient’s perspective: pregabalin and gabapentin, new controlled drugs

From 1st of April 2019 pregabalin and gabapentin will be classified as Schedule 3 Controlled drugs.

Why pregabalin and gabapentin became controlled substances?

Following Government consultation and recommendations from Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs the decision was made to reclassify pregabalin and gabapentin.

The main reason for reclassification was concern about misuse of both drugs. When taken pregabalin and gabapentin can cause feeling of euphoria and relaxation. They can also be used to enhance the effects of opiates such as codeine. This potential for abuse increases their street value. Market for illegal supply of pregabalin and gabapentin is on rise.

How does reclassification affect patients?

Changes to legal classification of pregabalin and gabapentin should not affect patients a lot. With recent changes to Electronic Prescription service prescribers will be able to issue electronic prescriptions for both drugs.

Prescriptions for controlled drugs Schedule 3 are valid for 28 days from the issue date. This means patients have 28 days to collect their medication. After 28 days prescription is expired and supply of medication is not possible.

There are also specific requirements for validity of Schedule 3 prescriptions, however relevant prescribing software should be updated to meet these requirements automatically.

A common problem in the pharmacy is when patient presents a hand written prescription for controlled drug written by a hospital doctor. Sometimes it happens that these do not meet legal requirements, for example a total quantity written in both word and figures for prescribed drug is missing or there is a lack of clear dose directions.

Private prescriptions for pregabalin and gabapentin

So far private prescriptions for pregabalin and gabapentin could have been written on piece of paper and as long as prescription met legal requirements supply could be made.

With changes new changes in place both drugs will have to be issued on private prescription form FP10PCD. Private prescriptions which are not written on this form will not be legally valid and accepted.

I am a community pharmacist working in UK. I blog about drugs, health and pharmacy.

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