The legal position on the supply and/or administration of controlled drugs under Patient Group Directions is summarised


The use of controlled drugs is regulated under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

It is this legislation which controls which controlled drugs can be administered under PGDs and by which professions.

Restrictions on CD use under PGDs for specific professions

Not all professions listed in the PGD legislation can administer controlled drugs under a PGD.

The following regulated professions groups cannot administer or supply any controlled drugs, in any of the five schedules, under a PGD:

  • Dietitians
  • Speech & language therapists
  • Dental therapists
  • Dental hygienists

Restrictions on CD use under PGDs by CD Schedule

The following details which CDs can be supplied/administered under PGDs.

Unless listed below a CD cannot be administered or supplied under a PGD.

Schedule 2

Morphine and diamorphine – only by registered nurses and pharmacists for the immediate necessary treatment of a sick or injured person. Not for treating addiction.


Schedule 3


Schedule 4

All drugs except anabolic steroids and injectable medications used for treating addiction.

Schedule 5

All drugs


Tramadol, gabapentin and pregabalin

Following their reclassification as Schedule 3 controlled drugs (CD No Register POM) tramadol, gabapentin and pregabalin may not be supplied and/or administered under a PGD.

Nitrous oxide

The reclassification of nitrous oxide as a Schedule 5 controlled drug does not affect its Pharmacy Only (P) legal categorisation.

P medicines do not require a PGD for administration, including those which are Schedule 5 CDs.  A PGD may be used for the supply of P medicines where no other legal mechanism for supply is available (e.g. an exemption or prescribing). For more information, please refer to P and GSL medicines with PGDs.

Use of a PGD for the supply of nitrous oxide is legal.

Further information

Refer to the Care Quality Commission website for information on law, guidance and useful links on the safer management of controlled drugs.

Video explainer

This PGD explainer discusses the appropriate use of PGDs for the supply and/or administration of controlled drugs.

Update history

  1. Video explainer added
  1. Minor formatting updates
  1. Advice added re nitrous oxide reclassification
  1. Reformatted
  1. Page reviewed - no changes required.
  2. Published

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