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Lyrica to be made class C drug in Northern Ireland

Published on 01/04/19 at 09:51am

Pregabalin – sold under the brand name Lyrica – will now be treated as a class C drug in Northern Ireland.

The reclassification comes after the anti-epileptic drug was linked to 33 deaths in 2017. It will thus now be illegal to possess or supply the prescription medicine, which is also used to treat chronic pain.

While those in possession of Lyrica could face up to two years in prison and an unlimited fine, those charged with supplying the drug could face 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.

The move comes as use of pregabalin is on the rise – particularly in Northern Ireland. The  illicit market for the drug has grown amid the rise of unregulated markets online.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the UK Border Agency intercept packages containing illicit pregabalin every week, according to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Joe Brogan, the HSCB's head of pharmacy and medicines management, commented: “In many cases of pregabalin misuse, it has not been prescribed - it has been sourced through family or friends or bought on the street or via the internet.”

“Many such drugs that are bought from illicit sources do not actually contain medicines that they purport to be.”

“Any medicine or any drug can be a poison - it all depends on three things: Where you get it from - was it prescribed and supplied from a regulated source?; how much you take - was it taken within accepted dosages?; what you take it with - mixing drugs together and with alcohol can create a toxic mix that is lethal.”

Louis Goss

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