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Pregabalin and gabapentin: what impact will reclassification have on doctors and patients?

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 11 March 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l1107

Linked opinion

Reclassifying pregabalin and gabapentin only moves the problem onto other drugs

  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. London, UK

From 1 April 2019 pregabalin and gabapentin will be reclassified as class C controlled substances in the UK. The change, announced in October 2018, is expected to prompt a decline in the use of the drugs as prescribing, dispensing, and collecting them becomes more onerous for doctors, pharmacists, and patients.

The reclassification will make it illegal to supply pregabalin and gabapentin through repeat dispensing. Pharmacists will need to dispense the drugs within 28 days of a prescription being written, and doctors will have to hand sign prescriptions,12 unless a system for electronic prescription of controlled drugs is agreed and rolled out.3 NHS England sent guidance to GP practices about the changes last month (see box).

After representation from community pharmacy groups4 it has been decided that pregabalin and gabapentin will be exempt from safe custody regulations, meaning that they will not be required to be kept in controlled drug cabinets.

The reclassification has been prompted by a growing number of deaths associated with misuse of the two drugs: the number linked to pregabalin …

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