Pregabalin (Lyrica) should be rescheduled as a Controlled Drug (S8) in Australia

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Pregabalin (Lyrica) is a medication used to treat epilepsy, neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia and anxiety disorders.

In Australia, Pregabalin is currently classified as a Prescription Only (S4) medication, however doctors hand it out readily without being aware of its potential for abuse and it’s nasty withdrawals.

I became addicted to this medication after being prescribed it for anxiety. It worked so well in the beginning and completely melted away all my fears - my social anxiety was gone, my suicidal thoughts were gone and I felt truly happy. However, overtime, I no longer felt the effects that I once did and started taking more, hoping I would feel the same. I was trapped in a vicious cycle and before I knew it I was taking up to 1.5g a day. The recommended maximum dose is 300mg a day. I was hospitalised after seeking help and my dose was decreased to 300mg overnight. The withdrawals were horrific - nausea, headaches, sweating, difficultly sleeping, nightmares, extreme anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, mood swings, confusion, agitation and loss of appetite.

The Guardian News in the UK wrote an article (22 September, 2017) which caught my eye “Pregabalin, known as 'new valium', to be made class C drug after deaths”. 

“Pregabalin was mentioned on 111 death certificates registered in England and Wales in 2016.” 

“Testimony from doctors, pharmacists and drug counsellors, who were responding to a Guardian callout, suggests abuse of the drug is widespread. One emergency medicine nurse, who asked to remain anonymous, said her department had seen five cases a month since summer 2016, when someone had overdosed. She said: “Most people who are affected are those with other addiction problems, and ‘pregabs’ is taken along with other substances.”

“Earlier this year the British Medical Association (BMA) called for the drug to be made a controlled substance in the UK in the same class as steroids and valium. Last year the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs wrote a letter to the government making the same recommendation. It would mean the drug could not be repeat-dispensed and prescriptions would only be valid for one month. The letter warned of the risk of addiction for both pregabalin and a similar drug called gabapentin.”

I believe that in Australia, Pregabalin (Lyrica) should be rescheduled as a Controlled Drug (S8) to prevent any future cases of missuse, abuse and addiction. I am aware that many of the people who are prescribed Lyrica take it as directed, however there are many people who fall into the trap of addiction without even realising. By rescheduling Pregabalin (Lyrica) we can protect our families, friends and communities from being affected by this medication which at the moment has no warning or alert system placed on it.

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