The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended that ketamine should be upgraded to a Class B illegal drug and a schedule 2 substance for legal use by medics and vets. The ACMD announced their recommendations at an SMC briefing.
Professor Valerie Curran, Professor of Psychopharmacology, University College London and Member of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD), said:
“The key problem with the ACMD’s recommendations is that it could make life harder for doctors and vets who use ketamine medically. There is little evidence that ketamine is being diverted from medical use (most is sent here by post from India) so it is hard to see the rationale for re-scheduling it up to 2. I am very pleased that the medical community will be consulted about the consequences of re-scheduling ketamine before a final decision is made.”
Professor David Nutt, Chair of the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) and Head of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology and Molecular Imaging at Imperial College London, said:
“The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs and I agree that if drugs are to be classified based on their harms then the evidence shows ketamine should be upgraded to class B, which affects how illegal handling of ketamine is viewed. However, and this is very important, whilst the ‘class’ affects how we consider illegal use, the ‘schedule’ is the classification for legal use by vets and medics and should not be changed. Ketamine is currently a schedule 4 drug meaning that it can be easily used in daily work by vets and medics. If it is upgraded to schedule 2 as ACMD recommend that will mean it will have to be kept under lock and key so this will impede necessary clinical use as an anaesthetic as vets will not be able to use it in the field for example – so animals WILL suffer. Changing the schedule is due to fears that the drug is being taken from clinical stores but there is no evidence that is happening, so there is absolutely no need for this change.”