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Amid addiction fears, Home Office announces clampdown on painkillers

Amid addiction fears, Home Office announces clampdown on painkillers

  • October 2018
  • Posted By Ben Craske

The government is reclassifying two painkillers as concerns mount that people are misusing and becoming addicted to them. The drugs – gabapentin and pregabalin – are also used to treat anxiety and epilepsy.

The Home Office’s announcement means that it will soon be against the law to possess the drugs without a prescription and that selling or supplying them to others will also be illegal. The government acted after experts recommended that it should place tighter controls on the drugs. After several reports surfaced linking the drugs to an increasing number of deaths, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs expressed concerns about people abusing the drugs.

Under the changes in the law, the drugs will still be available for legitimate medical purposes when prescribed by a doctor, but controls on the drugs will be more stringent. Pharmacists will no longer be able to accept electronic copies of prescriptions but need to receive prescriptions signed by doctors. The new restrictions place gabapentin and pregabalin in the same legal status as ketamine and tranquilisers.

Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding, and Vulnerability said that expert advice led to the government’s decision to make changes to the law, noting that any death due to drug misuse is tragic. The changes in the law will become effective in August and come while Public Health England is conducting a review of the ‘growing problem’ of addiction to prescription drugs. Data from the NHS reveals that about 9% of patients in England are prescribed drugs that are potentially addictive or are difficult to stop taking, including antidepressants, sedatives, and painkillers.


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