Consultation on proposal to schedule pregabalin and gabapentin

The UK Home Office is seeking views on whether to schedule pregabalin and gabapentin under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

This consultation follows the recommendation by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) that the two substances should be controlled as Class C drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (‘the 1971 Act’) and placed in Schedule 3 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

The consultation is aimed at members of the public, healthcare professionals, institutions, all sectors within the supply chain including the pharmaceutical industry, wholesalers and community pharmacies in the UK.

Pregabalin and Gabapentin are anticonvulsant drugs with a well-defined role in the management of a number of disabling long-term conditions, including:

  • epilepsy,
  • postherpetic neuralgia,
  • diabetic peripheral neuropathy and fibromyalgia,
  • in the management of neuropathic pain, and,
  • as an adjunct therapy for partial seizures.

In addition pregabalin is licensed for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder.

Both pregabalin and gabapentin are increasingly being reported as possessing a potential for misuse. When used in combination with other depressants, they can cause drowsiness, sedation, respiratory failure and death.

Pregabalin may have a higher abuse potential than gabapentin due to its rapid absorption and faster onset of action and higher potency. Pregabalin causes a ‘high’ or elevated mood in users; the side effects may include chest pain, wheezing, vision changes and less commonly, hallucinations.

Gabapentin can produce feelings of relaxation, calmness and euphoria. Some users have reported that the ‘high’ from snorted gabapentin can be similar to taking a stimulant.

Comments from all those with an interest in the consultation are welcome. Feedback must be received by 22nd of January 2018.

Click here to view the UK Home Office Consultation Document