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Press release on HM Government Plans to Restrict Pain Medicines 23/10/2017

Mon­day 23rd  Octo­ber 2017

Gov­ern­ment moves to reclas­si­fy pain med­ica­tions pre­ga­balin and gabapentin cre­ate  fear and anx­i­ety for peo­ple liv­ing with long-term pain

Health char­i­ty Pain Con­cern is warn­ing that moves to restrict pre­scribed painkillers pre­ga­balin and gabapentin over their asso­ci­a­tion with ris­ing death rates and mis-use would have a seri­ous impact on peo­ple who depend on the med­ica­tion for relief from long-term pain.

Home Office pro­pos­als to reclas­si­fy both gabapentin and pre­ga­balin — com­mon­ly used to treat neu­ro­path­ic or nerve pain — as class ‘C’ sub­stances, will make access to them more dif­fi­cult. Pub­lic­i­ty sur­round­ing the pro­pos­al has also cre­at­ed fear and anx­i­ety and left peo­ple who depend on gabapentin or pre­ga­balin for pain relief, ques­tion­ing the safe­ty of the two med­i­cines which, if used respon­si­bly and with the right com­bi­na­tion of sup­port, can change the lives of peo­ple who have pre­vi­ous­ly strug­gled to man­age pain symptoms.

Heather Wal­lace, Chair of Pain Con­cern – a UK char­i­ty based in Scot­land — acknowl­edges the rise in the num­ber of deaths asso­ci­at­ed with pre­ga­balin and gabapentin but says the cir­cum­stances around the alarm­ing sta­tis­tics haven’t been prop­er­ly exam­ined. ‘We have known for a long time that these med­i­cines have been over-pre­scribed, but the peo­ple who find them ben­e­fi­cial for pain relief, haven’t mis­used them and feel they are being pun­ished for some­thing they haven’t done. In many cas­es it is dif­fi­cult to find the right com­bi­na­tion of pain relief, and we know from our helpline that peo­ple have been left fear­ful and con­fused by this pro­pos­al and all the pub­lic­i­ty it has gen­er­at­ed. It’s pre­ma­ture and risks harm­ing peo­ple who are using these med­i­cines because there is noth­ing else for them that works’.

Pain spe­cial­ist Dr Pamela Bell believes that open and informed dis­cus­sion between peo­ple liv­ing with pain and their GP about the ben­e­fits ver­sus the risks of poten­tial treat­ment, includ­ing the risks of depen­den­cy, addic­tion and inter­ac­tions with oth­er drugs, is vital. ‘We know many peo­ple who ben­e­fit from these med­i­cines when they are appro­pri­ate­ly pre­scribed and we share their con­cerns at moves to reclas­si­fy pre­ga­balin and gabapentin. Many peo­ple tell us it has tak­en years for them to find the right com­bi­na­tion of med­ica­tion, phys­io­ther­a­py and sup­port that allows them a bet­ter qual­i­ty of life and it will prove more dif­fi­cult to access pre­ga­balin and gabapentin when they are reclas­si­fied as con­trolled drugs’.

Pain Con­cern works to empow­er peo­ple liv­ing with long term pain to be proac­tive in man­ag­ing their con­di­tion and has in response to the demand for trust­wor­thy and reli­able infor­ma­tion on pain med­ica­tion has pro­duced three infor­ma­tion leaflets on: gabapentin and pre­ga­balin; amitripty­line and opi­oids. Writ­ten by pain experts, the leaflets pro­vide up-to-date infor­ma­tion and facts to help peo­ple dis­cuss pos­si­ble treat­ments and ther­a­pies with their GP or clin­ic. Leaflets are free of charge from or 03001020162.