Prescription drugs pregabalin and gabapentin linked to death rise

Pregabalin pills in blister packs

Addaction is calling for caution when prescribing pregabalin and gabapentin after a rise in deaths linked to the drugs. Addaction believes that the risks of the potential for addiction and overdose related to these drugs hasn’t been clear enough. The number of drug-related deaths linked to pregabalin has risen 2,675% in six years.

It is thought that these medicines are more commonly being prescribed for pain, particularly by GPs. Official figures show that in the UK, pregabalin and gabapentin prescribing has increased by 350% and 150% respectively in just 5 years. These drugs are also finding their way on to the black market.

Pregabalin and gabapentin are increasingly being used illicitly. Both drugs can depress the central nervous system (causing sedation and reducing breathing for example). If someone is already taking substances that depress the central nervous system (including alcohol, opioids like heroin and benzodiazepines like diazepam), then this is more likely to cause an overdose.

To reduce the number of tragic deaths, Addaction pharmacists and doctors are asking for more guidance to be given to prescribers (including GPs) about how these can be prescribed more safely, particularly for people with a history of substance misuse.

However it is important that if anyone is taking pregabalin or gabapentin in line with professional medical advice that they do not make any changes without first speaking to a healthcare professional.

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