The drugs – used to treat anxiety, nerve pain and epilepsy – will be placed in schedule 3 under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, but will be excluded from the requirement to be stored in a safe, the Home Office announced in October.
Pregabalin and gabapentin will be classified as controlled drugs on April 1, which means from this date pharmacies will only be able to accept physically-signed prescriptions – rather than electronic copies – unless the script arrives from a GP practice involved in the NHS Digital pilot (see more below).
However, changes to the EMIS GP system are already being made ahead of April, to revert pregabalin and gabapentin electronic prescription service (EPS) scripts to paper, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said on Friday (February 8).
All GP practices using EMIS will be updated by February 15, it added.
“If a local GP practice uses the EMIS clinical system, once their software has been updated, prescriptions for pregabalin and gabapentin will be issued as paper FP10s, not EPS prescriptions,” PSNC said.
“If a patient’s other prescription items are issued via EPS, there is a risk that the paper script for pregabalin or gabapentin may not be collected from the GP practice,” it added.
“Pharmacy teams should advise patients that the paper script will need to be collected from the practice – or the pharmacy could offer to collect the script for the patient if you provide a prescription collection service,” the negotiator advised.
NHS Digital is currently piloting a system to allow GP practices to prescribe schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs through the EPS, PSNC said.
“It is hoped that some GP clinical systems will be able to roll out this functionality in the near future,” it added.