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Coroner calls for tramadol 'class A' upgrade at inquest

A coroner has become the latest high-profile figure to call for the controlled drug tramadol to be upgraded to a Class A drug. Photo: UTV

The family of a woman who died from tramadol has welcomed the coroner’s call for it to be made a class A drug.

Pauline Cunningham, a mother-of-one who was 38-years-old, accidentally overdosed on the painkiller last year.

Even her love and desire to be with her young daughter was not enough to beat an addiction which took her life just days before Christmas.

Pauline's sister Melissa Cunningham said: "She was a character, she was a good person - she was a loving mum and sister."

The coroner’s intervention came on Tuesday at the inquest into Pauline Cunningham’s death.

The inquest was told she was trying to get help to overcome her issues with substance abuse and was in rehab in the north of the city.

She was last seen alive in the early hours of 15 December, but just hours later, she was found barely clinging to life on a chair in the toilets.

Attempts to revive her failed and, on the floor and in the bin, were opened packets of pills - the amount of the painkiller tramadol she had in her bloodstream on its own could have killed her.

Coroner Joe McCrisken said Northern Ireland has a very real and increasing problem. Credit: UTV

Coroner Joe McCrisken said he “completely agrees” with state pathologist Professor Jack Crane that tramadol should be reclassified as a class A drug without prescription to try and deter illegal trade.

Pauline's loved ones said they took comfort from the coroner speaking out.

Her death, he said, was accidental, but it was not clear where she got the tramadol from - and that will haunt them forever.

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