French customs warned this Wednesday of the increase in seizures of pregabalin, prescribed to treat epilepsy, generalized anxiety disorders and neuropathic pain, the use of which is diverted for narcotic purposes.
The misuse of this drug, better known by its trade name Lyrica, has been noted for several years in France, particularly in the context of falsified prescriptions or medical and pharmaceutical nomadism. Faced with the increase in cases of abuse, dependence, misuse and falsified prescriptions, the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM) has restricted in May 2021 the conditions for prescribing pregabalin, which is now limited to six months and is the subject of a secure and tamper-proof prescription.
Several seizures in recent months
Nicknamed the “poor man’s drug”, because its low costit is “regularly sold by urban crime networks also active in the illegal sale of cigarettes and tobacco”, underlined the general directorate of customs in a press release.
On October 11, Metz customs services intercepted 5,544 capsules of medication containing pregabalin in the personal effects of an individual. A week later, customs officers in Marseille discovered 2,800 drug capsules containing pregabalin in an express freight package intended for an individual. “These seizures are part of a trend observed since the beginning of the year, of the increasing diversion of use of this medication on our territory, as also evidenced by the seizure at the end of August by the customs brigade of Baisieux (North) of 5,792 pregabalin tablets during the inspection of a vehicle coming from Belgium and destined for the Val-d’Oise department,” customs specified.
The main complications associated with pregabalin misuse are coma, impaired consciousness, disorientation, confusion and can lead to death. Customs seized nearly 1.9 million health products in 2022 as part of the fight against drug trafficking and misuse of medicines.