For many, when given a prescription the assumption is that the drug they’re taking is safe. In the case of prescription painkiller Tramadol, however, that could hardly be further from the truth.
In fact, according to some experts, it may be claiming more lives than any other drug – including cocaine and heroine.
Tramadol is just one of many opiate-based painkillers on the market, and is illegal without a prescription. Like many other opiates, however, it’s easy for people to get hooked, and it’s becoming more widely available on the black market.
Rule-makers around the world are worried about what may happen as Tramadol becomes more widely available. Having seen the opiate crisis in the United States and elsewhere, it seems with good reason.
“I don’t think that people realise how potentially risky taking tramadol is.
I think it’s because it’s a prescription drug – people assume it’s safe.” – PROFESSOR JACK CRANE, STATE PATHOLOGIST FOR NI
The opiate-based drug used to treat moderate or severe pain should only be available on prescription – it was reclassified in 2014 making it an illegal Class C drug without prescription.
But anti-drug campaigners say more and more people are turning to the black market.
Professor Jack Crane has spoken out to say he fears more people will die unless urgent action is taken and he is calling for a crackdown on the illegal market.
He wants tramadol to be upgraded again, this time to Class A.
Professor Crane is now set to meet Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer later this month to push for change.