Call to Restrict GHB Use

Drugs advisory body recommends stricter regulation in the UK

Writing in a letter to Jeremy Browne, Minister of State for Crime Prevention on 3rd October 2013, Professor Les Iverson chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (AMCD) discussed the decision for Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) to move from schedule IV to schedule II of the Convention on Psychotropic Substances of 1971.
GHB occurs naturally in the brain and it may be an inhibitory neuromodulator, involved among other things in the control of glucose metabolism, oxygen consumption and temperature regulation.  A GHB based medicine ‘Xyrem’ is used in the treatment of narcolepsy and is prescribed at low levels in the UK.  Figures from the NHS show 970 prescriptions were issued for this drug in 2012.
The AMCD agreed with the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the abuse liability of GHB is much greater than the little-to-moderate therapeutic use.
The AMCD noted that there were 13 drug related deaths involving GHB/GBL in 2012.  It is not possible to separately identify GBL and GHB post mortem as GBL is rapidly converted into GHB in the body.
The ACMD recommended GHB be scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs act as a schedule II substance meaning stricter regulation on the safe keeping and prescribing of this drug.
Simon Stephens Director of Casework at Addictions UK said: “GHB is a powerful tranquiliser taken recreationally as a ‘club drug’.  A very small amount causes a profound effect which can lead to inexperienced users unintentionally overdosing.”
You can read the full text of Professor Iverson’s letter.
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