Belfast Telegraph

Drug linked to 33 deaths made illegal without prescription

Lyrica, which is used to treat epilepsy, has become a popular street drug
Lyrica, which is used to treat epilepsy, has become a popular street drug

A deadly drug linked to the deaths of 33 people has been made illegal without a prescription.

From Monday (April 1) Pregabalin and gGbapentin are classified as Class C controlled substances making it a crime to possess the medicines without a prescription.

The move comes after the Health and Social Care Board raised concerns about the drug to the Home Office and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.

Pregabalin - also known as Lyrica - is usually prescribed to treat epilepsy and nerve pain. The BBC reports Northern Ireland has the highest rate of Pregabalin prescriptions in the UK with 33 deaths linked to drug in 2017. There were eight the previous year.

Head of pharmacy for the Health and Social Care Board Joe Brogan said: “The reclassification of Pregabalin and Gabapentin as Class C Controlled drugs is a positive step in tackling the misuse of these potentially dangerous and powerful drugs.

“We recognise the devastating and debilitating impact that drug and alcohol addiction has on the lives of individuals and their families. Over the last 10 years we have seen a significant increase in the numbers of drug related deaths, often as a result of the misuse of a combination of prescription medicines, alcohol and illicit drugs such as heroin.

“Prescription drugs are potential poisons, particularly if they haven’t been prescribed for the individual by a qualified clinician, if the wrong dose is taken, if they are mixed with alcohol or other substances, or if they have come through an unregulated supply route and potentially could contain anything.”

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