A prescription drug being abused by teenagers in Northern Ireland should be made a class C drug, health officials have said. Pregabalin, also known by the brand name Lyrica, is an anti-epileptic drug also used to relieve chronic pain. Last year, pregabalin was prescribed more in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK and was this year linked to the deaths of two teenagers.
Side effects of pregabalin include depression, drowsiness and sedation. The drug can also cause breathing difficulties that can lead to death and cardiovascular problems. Pregabalin can also be particularly dangerous if taken in small amounts with other drugs or alcohol. It is illegal to have class C drugs without a prescription and illegal to supply or sell them to others.
The Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs made the recommendation in a letter in January to urge ministers to make pregabalin a class C drug. Joe Brogan, the HSCB’s head of pharmacy, said the problem “appears to be a growing issue”. Pregabalin can be ordered online and it is understood it has been coming into Northern Ireland in fairly constant levels for a number of years.
Randox Toxicology offer tests for pregabalin available on Biochip Array Technology and ELISA. Allowing laboratories to screen for pregabalin with minimal detection of gabapentin, this highly specific assay is available for both blood and urine sample matrices.
Read more at BBC News.