The Misuse of Drugs Acts are designed to prevent the abuse of certain substances that are considered to be dangerous and with a strong potential for abuse while at the same time regulating the various professional activities associated with these substances. The Acts themselves are of little immediate relevance to companies and professionals that deal with controlled drugs whereas the regulations made under the Acts are of importance. The principal regulations made under the Misuse of Drugs Acts are the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 1988. These Regulations have been amended on several occasions since 1988.
The Regulations divide controlled drugs into five Schedules according to their potential for abuse and their therapeutic usefulness. The Regulations also apply varying controls to these substances such as imposing restrictions on the production, supply, importation and exportation, depending on which Schedule they are listed in. Schedule 1 controlled drugs have the most restrictions imposed due to their strong potential for abuse and little, if any, therapeutic value. Schedule 5 substances and preparations, however, have the least amount of restrictions.