News story

ACMD advises the government on the control of prescription drugs

The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs has recommended the control of three prescription medicines

pills

A review carried out by the Council has shown that the medicines, lidexamfetamine, zalepon and zopiclone, are, or have the potential to be, misused and could cause harm.

The ACMD recommends they are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

These medicines will still be available, but controlling them will regulate how they are stored, supplied and prescribed.

Lisdexamfetamine

Lisdexamfetamine is an inactive pro-drug contained in Elvanse, a medicine for the treatment of ADHD. It is taken orally and absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream where it is converted into dexamphetamine, which is responsible for Elvanse’s activity. Dexamphetamine is already controlled in the UK as a Class B, Schedule II substance and the ACMD recommends that lisdexamfetamine is controlled in the same manner.

The ACMD considers the risk of misuse for lisdexamfetamine to be high due to the ease of conversion to amphetamine which may, in turn, be readily converted to methamphetamine.

Zaleplon and zopiclone

These medicines are part of the ‘z drugs’ group prescribed as sedatives and used to treat insomnia. The third medicine in the group, zolpidem, is already controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act as a Class C, Schedule IV substance. The ACMD considers the risk of diversion and misuse, and the consequent harms to be similar for all three of the ‘z-drugs’ and recommends that they are controlled in the same manner i.e. Class C, Schedule IV of the Misuse of Drugs Act and Regulations.

Chairman of the ACMD, Professor Les Iversen said:

We have carefully considered the physical and social harms of lisdexamfetamine and the ‘z drugs’ and have advised the government that their harms correspond with similar prescription medicines already controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act as Class B and Class C substances respectively.

It is vital the ACMD makes these recommendations if we consider there to be a risk of harm. These drugs have a legitimate medical use, but people should be under no illusion, taking them without prescription and medical advice can be dangerous.

The ACMD was established under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. It is the duty of the ACMD to keep drugs misuse, in the United Kingdom, under review and to advise the government on measures for preventing misuse and social problems arising from it.

Published 5 September 2013