The pain reliever tramadol has now become a controlled drug and been added to Schedule 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

The change to the regulations, made by the Home Office, means tramadol is now subject to special requirements when writing prescriptions.

The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) says practices should also note:

  • Prescriptions for Schedule 3 controlled drugs are valid for 28 days only and are non-repeatable.
    It is an offence to supply a Schedule 3 controlled drug against a fax or email prescription.
  • The original prescription must be obtained before the medicine is dispensed.
  • If supplying a Schedule 3 controlled drug against another veterinary surgeon’s prescription, checks need to be made to ensure the prescription has come from a UK address and that the signature is genuine.
  • The date on which the drug was supplied must be marked on the prescription and the prescription retained on the practice premises for at least five years.

Although tramadol is exempt from Safe Custody Regulations, the RCVS advises all Schedule 3 controlled drugs are locked away.

The Home Office has also reclassified ketamine as a class B controlled drug. However, it remains under Schedule 4 (part 1) of the 2001 regulations, meaning the legal requirements for supply, storage and record keeping remain the same.

The RCVS therefore continues to advise that practice premises should:

  • Record the use of ketamine in an informal register.
  • Store ketamine in a controlled drugs cabinet.
  • Destroy ketamine in the presence of an authorised witness.

Further details about the specific requirements for controlled drugs can be found in the Veterinary Medicines Directorate’s Guidance Note No 20 – Controlled Drugs

Practice premises can also contact the RCVS professional conduct department for further guidance on 020 7202 0789 or

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