As I was listening to the news last night. there was a report that Laura Plummer, a British national, had now been charged with the importation of Tramadol into Egypt and would be facing a trial. The reporter then said that Tramadol is legal in the UK but not so in Egypt.
This is very misleading. Whilst it would seem to be the case that Tramadol is no longer available on prescription in Egypt, the implication of the report was that in the UK, its possession is fine. This is not the case. Tramadol has been a proscribed drug under the provisions of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 since 2014. It does however remain available on prescription.
What does this mean?
If you were prescribed the medication in the UK you can of course possess the drug. Were you to give or sell a tablet to another, that would be an offence, as would having Tramadol in your possession without it being prescribed to you.
Were you to import Tramadol into the UK, for instance, by purchasing it on the internet from another country, an offence under Section 170 of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 is likely to have been committed. An offence that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment.
So whilst Tramadol is indeed available on prescription in the UK, unlike Egypt, where possession under any other circumstances is an offence, the suggestion that it is a legal drug is dangerously misleading.
Some might think that Egypt's approach to Tramadol is a sensible one. Tramadol is a powerful analgesic opiate and it would seem that a number of those prescribed this medication develop an addiction. That is for those with medical and pharmaceutical knowledge to comment on but be under no illusion, Tramadol is not 'legal' in the UK.