TGA to decide on benzos rescheduling

While increased dispensing and abuse of alprazolam has recently been highlighted as a particular concern, the TGA’s Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling has considered a proposal to move the whole class of benzodiazepines from Schedule 4 to Schedule 8 to restrict prescribing.

A spokesperson for the regulator said an interim decision was expected tomorrow before a final decision in a month's time.

Dispensing of alprazolam, indicated for treatment of anxiety and panic disorder, increased by nearly 90% from 2000 to 2011, despite its addictive potential and disputed efficacy. The drug is a common target for doctor shoppers because it is fast-acting and has a short half-life.

However, AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said rescheduling benzodiazepines would create huge administrative problems.

“Medical groups have expressed concern about the whole group being included in Schedule 8 but recognise there could be a special case