TGA singles out alprazolam for upscheduling

The TGA’s Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling (ACMS) has recommended rejection of a proposal to move the whole class of benzodiazepines from S4 to S8.

It said the scheduling of other benzodiazepines remained appropriate but made an interim decision to place them in Appendix D, paragraph 5 – meaning possession would be illegal without a prescription from 1 January, 2014.

The reasons for the interim decision to upschedule alprazolam include a lack of additional therapeutic benefit compared with other drugs in the class, a public health problem of widespread use with possible increased toxicity, an inappropriate pack size as well as misuse, particularly in association with opioids.

According to the Poisons Standard, S8 substances "should be available for use but require restriction of manufacture, supply, distribution, possession and use to reduce abuse, misuse and physical or psychological dependence".

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