The 10-week Home Office consultation – which launched on Monday (November 13) – proposes three options for the reclassification of the two drugs.
The first – and "preferred option" – is placing the drugs in schedule 3 under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 and requiring them to be stored in safes.
If the government selects this option, "some organisations such as community pharmacies" may face the "increased costs" of acquiring additional safes to store the drugs in, according to the Home Office's impact assessment.
"[This option] would provide the largest benefit to society to prevent the two drugs being diverted into the illicit market, owing to the requirement to store the drugs in safes," the Home Office said.
"However, some organisations – such as community pharmacies – may struggle to store the two drugs in their existing safes and may need to acquire additional safes if the safe custody provisions apply."
The other two options for reclassification are: for pregabalin and gabapentin to be placed under schedule 3 without the need to be stored in safes; or to be placed under schedule 4 part 1 – alongside drugs such as lorazepam and diazepam.
Reclassifying the two drugs and storing them in safes was recommended by the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) in January 2016, the Home Office pointed out.
At the time, the ACMD suggested that pregabalin and gabapentin should become class C drugs, noting that their "risk of addiction, potential illegal diversion and medicinal misuse" are equivalent to existing class C drugs such as tramadol.
Pharmacists have until January 22, 2018 to submit their responses to the consultation via an online questionnaire.