Prescription drugs Pregabalin and Gabapentin are to be reclassified as schedule 3 controlled drugs from the 1st April 2019.

The move comes after experts highlighted rising numbers of fatalities linked to the drugs.

The change means it will be illegal to possess Pregabalin and Gabapentin without a prescription and it will be illegal to supply or sell them to others.

The drugs, which are used to treat nerve pain, epilepsy and anxiety, can bring about an elevated mood in users but can also have serious side effects, particularly when used in combination with other drugs.

The law change will mean the drugs are still available for legitimate use on prescription, but there will be stronger controls in place to ensure accountability and minimise the chances of pregabalin and gabapentin falling into the wrong hands or being stockpiled by patients.

GP’s will now need to physically sign prescriptions, rather than electronic copies being accepted by pharmacists.

In addition, pharmacists must dispense the drugs within 28 days of the prescription being written.

Please ensure that if you regularly receive either of these items directly from the chemist that you will need to separately request these from the surgery as of the 1st of April 2019.

If you have any questions, please contact your Dispensary or Pharmacy who will be able to clarify what this means to you.