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South Ossetia cracks down on oft-abused, anti-epileptic stroke drug

Illegal distributors of the drug may now face jail time

South Ossetia is trying to crack down on the widespread abuse of the prescription drug Lyrica. The illegal distribution of the drug is now punishable by imprisonment.

Pregabalin, marketed under the brand name ‘Lyrica’, is an anti-epileptic medication that is used to treat anxiety, neuropathic pain among a range of disorders, including patients recovering from stroke. In the United States, it is listed as a Schedule V drug.

Recently, more and more cases of improper use and prescription are being reported. Earlier, the illegal distribution of the drug carried only an administrative penalty and fine of 15-150 dollars, depending on the quantity of the drug.

MPs of the South Ossetian parliament have now unanimously voted to pass a bill to criminalise the illegal distribution and prescription of Lyrica and other similar medications.

“I believe it is a good step to reclassify the inappropriate administration and prescription of the drug from an administrative to a criminal offense. The fine for the seller is tiny in comparison to what he can earn in a day by selling Lyrica, which can at times amount to 1 500 dollars. The price of one pill is about 1000 roubles (15 USD). Lyrica enters South Ossetia from the North Caucasus. Unfortunately, dogs trained in drug detection at the border are unable to detect it and it is thus easy to transfer large amounts of the drug. Now, individuals involved in the improper distribution of the drug will be judged according to the quantity and frequency of drug sold,” South Ossetian MP Aleksandr Pliev told JAMnews.

He further explained that the drug is dangerous because of its psychological affects, which often lead to depression, sometimes even suicidal thoughts.

While risk of addiction is low, the drug still contains narcotic substances that can give rise to dependence.

Recently, several people who were addicted to Lyrica were sent to North Ossetia for treatment.

Lyrica first came under legal scrutiny in July 2015 in South Ossetia, when parliament passed a bill which prohibited its illegal transport, distribution and use.

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