Law change sees gabapentin and pregablin classed as controlled drugs

An important law change affecting 750 physiotherapist independent prescribers will see gabapentin and pregablin reclassified as Class C controlled drugs.

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​ From April 2019, pregablin and gabapentin will be classified as schedule 3 controlled drugs ​

Gabapentin and pregablin are currently prescription only medicines used to treat neuropathic pain, but they also have mood-enhancing effects.

Home Office concerns over the number of deaths linked to the illegal use of these drugs has resulted in a tightening of the law.

From April 2019, pregabalin and gabapentin will be classified as schedule 3 controlled drugs, the same as tramadol.

CSP professional adviser Pip White said: ‘We understand that some members may be frustrated by this change to the status of gabapentin and pregablin.

‘The case of need for continued prescribing of these two drugs by physiotherapist independent prescribers has already been made by the CSP.’

As part of current project work NHS England is seeking to identify additional controlled drugs that independent prescribing physiotherapists have a clear need to use, Ms White said.

NHS England last week confirmed to the CSP that gabapentin and pregablin will be included in any future public consultation about updating the controlled drugs prescribing list for physiotherapists. Codeine and tramadol will also be included.

Until April 2019, physiotherapist independent prescribers can continue to prescribe gabapentin and pregablin, Ms White said.

‘They must ensure they are aware of current evidence relating to the prescribing of these drugs, including the need to consider deprescribing to avoid long-term use.’

After this date, they will not be able to independently prescribe these medicines and must switch to supplementary prescribing for new or existing patients.

‘If gabapentin and pregablin are approved in any future physiotherapist independent prescriber controlled drug list, then independent prescribers will again be able to prescribe them.’

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