Pfizer seeking testimony from illegal pill users as part of drug surveillance efforts

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The drug safety unit at biopharma giant Pfizer is asking anyone who suffered adverse effects after taking pregabalin pills dealt on the black market across the North over Christmas to get in touch.

Nicki Ghaedi, a drug safety officer for Ireland and Britain, contacted the ‘Journal’ after the paper reported how potentially lethal red and white capsules, containing doses of the drug, which is used to treat anxiety, epilepsy and pain, were being traded illegally by drug dealers.

Senior Medicines Enforcement Officer for the Department of Health’s Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG), Peter Moore, and Professor Mike Mawhinney, Head of the Department of Health’s Medicines Regulatory Group, recently issued a public health warning about obtaining the prescription drug from illicit sources and taking incorrect dosages.

The drug, which can be used medicinally to treat a range of conditions, is also often abused recreationally due to its euphoria inducing effects.

Pfizer, which markets pregabalin as Lyrica, contacted the ‘Journal’ as part of its routine ‘pharmacovigilance’ commitments.

Ms. Ghaedi, wrote: “Patient safety is our highest priority and in the interests of wider patient safety, we try to obtain further information regarding any report of events that may occur whilst taking one of our medicines.

“We have a legal and ethical duty to attempt to obtain details of the patients involved so that we can follow this information up with them and their health care provider to share this with the medicines regulator, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and Ireland’s Health Products Regulatory Authority.”

The paper referred Pfizer to the aforementioned health authorities, which issued the recent public health warning over the circulation of pregabalin on the black market.

Mr. Moore had warned: “The Department is aware that distinctive red and white capsules containing the prescription only medicine pregabalin may have been illegally manufactured for circulation on the black market. “I would ask members of the public to avoid any prescription medicines obtained from illicit sources, whatever that source might be.

“Be in no doubt that medicines sourced in this way present a real danger to those taking them.

“Young people in particular may be unaware of the potentially fatal consequences of taking these drugs, particularly when taken with alcohol.”

Ms. Ghaedi asked anyone who had been adversely affected after having taken the wrong dosage of pregabalin obtained on the black market, to contact Pfizer’s drug safety unit at: Pfizer Limited., Walton Oaks, Dorking Road, Walton on the Hill, Tadworth, KT20 7NS.