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Kuwait to penalize non-prescribed Lyrica, Neurontin use after ban

KUWAIT: Kuwait 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 on 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.

Prisoners ‘stable’
In other news, the interior ministry confirmed that at least 33 prisoners have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, but their conditions are stable. The preventive and health measures have been taken in line with the instructions of the Ministry of Health, the interior ministry’s security media and public relations department said in a statement. It pointed to continued recovery of those who are infected, stressing that there is no worry about them.

Being keen on the safety of prisoners, medical swabs have been conducted on prisoners that led to the discovery of 33 infected cases, it said. Only one infected case was admitted to Farwaniya hospital. The infected have been separated, in accordance with the instructions of the MoH, the statement said, affirming abidance by all relevant health preventive measures. In addition, the statement referred to continued coordination with the MoH to conduct required periodical tests, based on keenness on the prisoners’ safety.

1,316 cases
The Ministry of Health had announced Sunday recording 1,316 new coronavirus infections and nine related deaths in the previous 24 hours. The new figures took the total cases in the country up to 276,586 and deaths to 1,578 respectively, noted the ministry’s spokesman Dr Abdullah Al-Sanad. He pointed out that some 1,409 more people had been cured of the virus over the same period, raising the total of those who have overcome the disease to 260,008.

He added that the number of people hospitalized with the virus stood at 15,000 as of Sunday, with 208 of them in intensive care units. Dr Sanad revealed that some 8,172 swab tests were conducted over the same period, bringing the total to 2,343,069. He renewed calls for the public to abide by health precautions to curb the spread of the virus.

Separately, the Ministry of Health denied reports about invalidity of some of the medical tools and materials used by the medics — namely face masks and medical uniforms. The ministry released a statement in which it affirmed keenness on securing valid strategic stockpiles of protective gear for medical cadres. It indicated that the authorities in charge of the medical stockpiles abide by authentic technical and scientific reports from renowned international authorities, namely The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and The United States Food and Drug Administration. – KUNA

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