The number of overdoses linked to the prescription medication gabapentin, used to treat nerve pain and seizures, is on the rise, according to UPI.
A recent study found gabapentin was involved in almost 1 in 10 U.S. overdose deaths between 2019 and 2020. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved gabapentin for treating seizures and pain associated with shingles. Health care providers have increasingly prescribed the medication off-label for nerve pain and other conditions, leading to its prescription rate doubling from about 13 to 27 per 1,000 insurance beneficiaries between 2009 and 2016. By 2019, gabapentin had become the seventh most prescribed medication in the United States, according to the study in JAMA.
In December 2019, the FDA required new label warnings about the risk of serious breathing problems with gabapentin and a similar medication, pregabalin, in combination with opioid pain medications. In May 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that almost 90% of overdose deaths in which gabapentin was detected also involved an opioid, particularly fentanyl.