ATHENS, OHIO — Prescriptions for nerve pain medications like Neurontin and Lyrica have more than tripled in recent years, according to a recent U.S. study. The study suggests the rise is driven by chronically ill older adults already taking opioids.
“Nearly one 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.
“My suspicion is that much of the use is driven by attempting to treat chronic pain with a non-opioid medication,”
Johansen told Reuters by email.
Amid this worsening opioid epidemic, the CDC has urged physicians to prescribe other drugs for pain including acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as well as gabapentinoids.
“The use of gabapentinoids specifically seems to be outpacing any proven efficacy and the potential significant harms like addiction and overdose are only beginning to be investigated,” said Dr. Christopher Goodman, a researcher at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Columbia who wasn’t involved in the study.