Kuwait on Sunday said consumers of the pain-fighting medicines Lyrica and Neurontin without a prescription from a healthcare professional could face up to five years in jail as a state ban on the non-medical use of two medications entered into effect Sunday. The move aims to protect the most vulnerable of patients, particularly youngsters who are often an easy target for promoters of these pain drugs, said an interior ministry statement, adding that illegal dealers of the two medicines could face up to 10-year jail term.
While the two medications are commonly prescribed for nerve and muscle pain, drug traffickers are capable of circumventing legal constraints to deliberately target young men and women who rely on the use of such drugs, said Mohammad Qabazard, the acting director of the ministry’s anti-narcotics department.
Citing the results of a year-long study, he revealed that Lyrica and Neurontin have now been classified as hallucinogens as per health ministry approval, thereby criminalizing the use of the drugs, amid efforts across state bodies to further tighten legal restrictions on patient access. The ministry will “act decisively” against all those who procure these drugs without a proper permit, while health practitioners are urged to be “extremely cautious” when prescribing the two medicines, added the official. Originally developed as a therapy for epilepsy, most prescriptions for pregabalin, better known by the Pfizer brand name Lyrica, are for pain relief.