5th August 2017

Egypt: A Requests to include "pregabalin" in scheduled drugs list after the spread of its use

The world recently celebrated the Drug Control Week to raise awareness and strengthen efforts to combat drug abuse. According to statistics of the treatment fund and the fight against drug addiction, the percentage of drug use in Egypt is 10.4% of the population of which two thirds are men and one third women.

Tobacco and drug youth protection programs aim to raise awareness among the youth of the gravity of addiction by targeting the most vulnerable groups, particularly drivers, workers and residents of marginalized areas. The objectives of these programs also include the creation of database on the drugs problem. Within the next few days, results of the first comprehensive survey on the percentages of drug use in ten Egyptian governorates will be published.

Additionally, there are treatment and rehabilitation services that have been provided to 150 thousand addicted patients since the implementation of the plan in 2015. Moreover, vocational training and rehabilitation programs have included approximately 300 cured patients through funding programs estimated at 700 thousand pounds for the establishement of small and micro-enterprises that aim towards community reintegration.

On the other hand, drug users do not stop inventing mischieful tricks and new substances mixtures that are very popular during seasons and holidays. Professor of Clinical Toxicology at Ain Shams University, Dr. Mohi Al-Masri, refers to a number of new drugs that have spread inside the Egyptian market, particularly the "Voodoo": a synthetic drug whose effect exceeds ten times that of cannabis.

The Voodoo is usually smoked in search of extreme exaltation; it causes auditory and visual hallucinations and excessive violence which sometimes incites the user to commit criminal acts that are beyond his control and will. It can also result in death due to very high pressure, myocardial infarction or stroke. Dr. Mohi Al-Masri also warns against the non-pharmacological and abusive use of the "pregabalin" drug.

Pregabalin is an antiepileptic drug known as Lyrica. It is used primarily in the treatment of neuropathic pain resulting from pressure on the nerve roots in cases of spondylosis or nerve infections for several reasons, such as diabetes.

This medication is also prescribed to treat muscle fiber pain or some cases of anxiety. Recently, users of opiates, heroin and Tramadol have started using this drug as a substitute for the lack of narcotic substances on the market or in the event of withdrawal, as pregabalin has an effect similar to opiates. Unfortunately, this substance is not classified in the drug table or in the lists of prohibited drugs, which has led recently to a significant increase in sales.

Dr. Al-Masri adds: We have conducted an analysis of this drug and recommend to include it in the list of narcotic substances tested both before recruiting or during periodical examination for employees in dangerous jobs such as vehicles drivers. Dr. Al-Masri recalled that the poison control center has received hundreds of cases of use over the last four years, many of which have died, citing the example of Voodoo that is clinically diagnosed but cannot be detected in the patient's urine due to the lack of accurate analysis of this substance that contains a combination of many chemicals. Dr. Al-Masri also noted the return of the use of classical steroids to combat fatigue for long periods, including sympathicomimetic and psychostimulatory synthetic drug "N-methyl-amphetamine" and "Captagon. "

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