In October 2018, the United Kingdom (UK) reclassified pregabalin and gabapentin as class C controlled drugs, which will come into force in April 2019.1 This is in direct response to the increased number of deaths linked to both these drugs in the UK and a consultation process around this issue.2
Speaking of the announcement, the British Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins MP stated: ‘Any death related to the misuse of drugs is a tragedy. We accepted expert advice and will now change the law to help prevent misuse of pregabalin and gabapentin and addiction to them.’
What this means is that it will be illegal to possess these drugs without a prescription but also illegal to supply or sell them to another person. Class C controlled drugs in the UK cannot be dispensed using an electronic prescription but require a doctor to physically sign the prescription. They also must be dispensed within 28 days from the date of prescribing.
In Ireland, data from the National Drug-Related Deaths Index show there has been a notable increase in the number of poisoning deaths where pregabalin has been implicated, from 26 in 2014 to 44 in 2015, a jump of 69%.3
1 Home Office (2018) Pregabalin and gabapentin to be controlled as class C drugs. London: Home Office.
2 Home Office (2018) A consultation on proposals to schedule pregabalin and gabapentin under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001. Government response to the consultation. London: Home Office. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/748439/consultation-response-pregabalin-gabapentin.pdf
3 Health Research Board (2017) National Drug-Related Deaths Index 2004 to 2015 data. Dublin: Health Research Board. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/28086/