From 1 April 2019, gabapentin and pregabalin are Schedule 3 controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, and Class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
This means that additional requirements are needed on the prescription. For example, the dose must be clearly defined. ‘As directed’ is not acceptable.
Prescriptions for controlled drugs are valid for 28 days after the date on the prescription.
The Department of Health and Social Care strongly recommends that the maximum quantity of Schedule 3 drugs prescribed should not exceed 30 days.
Emergency supply is not permitted. There must be a valid controlled drug prescription to obtain supplies from a pharmacy.
Implications for ASC providers
These medicines are exempt from safe custody. This means you do not need to store them in a controlled drugs cupboard.
Schedule 3 controlled drugs do not need to be recorded in the controlled drugs register.
But a care home might choose to store securely and record in a controlled drugs register. This will help to keep a tighter control on them and for audit purposes.
Staff should follow their medicines policy when storing and recording controlled drugs.
Staff must make sure ordering processes are robust enough so that people do not run out of these medicines.
MHRA published a drug safety update in February 2021. It reported that pregabalin can cause severe respiratory depression. Some people are at higher risk, including people aged over 65 years. ASC providers should act on the advice in this update.