A Gabapentin Prescriptions Surge May be Brewing Out-There!

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

Prescriptions for nerve pain medicines like gabapentin (Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica) have more than tripled in recent years, driven by increased use among chronically ill older adults and patients already taking opioids, a U.S. study suggests. The proportion of US adults prescribed gabapentin and other drugs in the same family of medicines climbed from 1.2% in 2002 to 3.9% by 2015, a period that also saw a surge in opioid overdoses and deaths.

The drug class, known as gabapentinoids, includes gabapentin (Neurontin, Gralise, Horizant) and pregabalin. “Nearly 1 in 25 adults takes a gabapentinoid during a year, which matters because we have little data to support much use of this drug class and minimal data to support the long-term safety of the medications,” said study author Dr. Michael Johansen of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine at Ohio University in Athens.

Source: Reuters Health News via MDLinx [1/8/18]



I hate to admit that these drugs did not even exist when I was in medical school. So, can we assume that most doctors today learned about them thru drug reps, TV, radio, internet, blog and vlog advertising, etc? 


Is this the next opioid or drug crisis in the USA? Doctor colleagues, please think about the antibiotic resistance problem. Economic colleagues, please think about the “law of substitutions.” All, think about recreational marijuana?


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7 Responses

  1. I’m a pharm tech and I haven’t really seen it yet. I must admit though- Gabapentin is an interesting drug. Relieved neuropathic pain (I take 900mg daily for radiating leg and arm pain and it helps), seizures and now, supposedly, in high doses causes euphoria. Not much is known about the gaba receptors so it could be true. The anecdotal evidence seems to point to the necessity of extremely large doses of gabapentin needed to achieve a high. As far as pregalbin goes, I always felt extremely disoriented and when my pain management doctor switched me from darvocet to ultram I had such bad reaction I couldn’t drive. It was if I’d taken a triple dose of Percocet without the euphoric feeling, just the sedation. I had to call someone to pick me up.
    They are my experiences with both drugs.


  2. The Cost of the Opioid Crisis Reached $115 Billion in 2017

    Altarum recently released an analysis of the economic impact of the opioid crisis in the US. Here are some key findings from the report:

    • The annual cost of the opioid crisis increased to $115 billion in 2017.
    • The cost of the opioid crisis has exceeded $1 trillion from 2001 to 2017.
    • An estimated $500 billion more will be spent on the opioid crisis by 2020.
    • The number of opioid overdose deaths is estimated to have exceed 62,500 in 2017.
    • Health care costs related to opioids reached $215.7 billion from 2001-2017.

    And, lost earnings and productivity from overdoses are estimated at $800,000/person.

    Source: Altarum, February 13, 2018


  3. Opioid Overdoses Increased 70% in the Midwest From 2016 to 2017

    The CDC recently released data on opioid overdoses treated in emergency departments from July 2016 through September 2017. Here are some key findings from the report:

    • Opioid overdoses went up 30% from July 2016 – September 2017 in 45 states.
    • In the Midwestern region, opioid overdoses increased 70%.
    • Opioid overdoses in large cities increased by 54% in 16 states.
    • Overdoses increased 30% for men and 24% for women from July 2016 – September 2017.
    • For people ages 25-34, opioid overdoses increased by 31%.
    • Opioid overdoses increased by 36% for people ages 35-54 and 32% for ages 55+.

    Source: CDC, March 2018


  4. CMS Speaks

    CMS proposes to force patients off effective opioid doses without their physician’s approval.

    Dr. David Marcinko MBHA

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What if a Study Showed Opioids Weren’t Usually Needed?

    ‘Pragmatic trials’ differ from most research studies by focusing on effects in the real world.

    Dr. David Marcinko MBA


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