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Charity's fears for painkiller restrictions

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Charity's fears for painkiller restrictions

Health charity Pain Concern is warning that moves to restrict prescribed painkillers pregabalin and gabapentin would have a serious impact on people who depend on the medication for relief from long-term pain.

Government proposals to reclassify both gabapentin and pregabalin over their association with rising death rates and mis-use as class ‘C’ substances , will make access to them more difficult, it maintains. Both drugs are commonly used to treat nerve pain.

Heather Wallace, chair of Pain Concern, acknowledges the rise in the number of deaths associated with pregabalin and gabapentin but says the circumstances around the alarming statistics have not 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," she said.  

"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 Concern has produced three information leaflets on gabapentin and pregabalin, amitriptyline, and opioids. They are available free to download here or by emailing

The charity can also be contacted on: 03001020162.

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