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Addiction. 2019 Jun;114(6):1026-1034. doi: 10.1111/add.14412. Epub 2018 Sep 5.

Rising pregabalin use and misuse in Australia: trends in utilization and intentional poisonings.

Author information

1
New South Wales Poisons Information Centre, The Children's Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, NSW, Australia.
2
Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology Research Group, Discipline of Pharmacology, School of Medical Sciences, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.
3
Centre for Big Data Research in Health, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
4
Clinical Toxicology Research Group, Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle, Australia.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND AIMS:

Pregabalin is a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) analogue, used to treat neuropathic pain and epilepsy. Pregabalin was registered in Australia in 2005, and subsidized publically in 2013. We aimed to describe Australian patterns of pregabalin use and intentional poisoning, and identify people potentially at high risk of misuse.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Population-based retrospective cohort study of dispensings in the 10% sample of Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (July 2012-February 2017); intentional poisoning calls to New South Wales Poisons Information Centre (NSWPIC) (2004-2016); intentional poisonings in two Australian toxicology service databases; and poisoning fatalities in NSW coronial records (2005-2016).

PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 122 572 people dispensed pregabalin, people with intentional pregabalin overdoses managed by NSWPIC and the toxicology services and pregabalin-associated deaths referred to the NSW coroner.

MEASUREMENTS:

Trends in dispensing, poisoning, death; demographics and patient characteristics, proportion of users at high risk of misuse (latent class analysis, LCA) and characteristics of high-risk users.

FINDINGS:

Pregabalin dispensing increased by 73 424 per year [95% confidence interval (CI) = 61726-85 121 P < 0.001] between 2013 and 2016. NSWPIC received 1158 reports of intentional pregabalin poisonings, with a 53.8% increase per year, 2005-2016 (95% CI = 44.0-64.2%, P < 0.001). We identified 88 pregabalin-associated deaths, 57.8% yearly increase (95% CI = 30.0-91.6%, P < 0.001). Patients overdosing on pregabalin commonly co-ingested opioids, benzodiazepines and illicit drugs, and had high rates of psychiatric and substance use comorbidities; 14.7% of pregabalin users were classed by the LCA as at high risk of misuse, and were more likely to be younger, male, co-prescribed benzodiazepines or opioids, have more individual prescribers and higher pregabalin strengths dispensed.

CONCLUSIONS:

There has been a dramatic increase in pregabalin use, poisonings and deaths in Australia since it became subsidized publicly in 2013. One in seven Australians dispensed pregabalin appears to be at high risk of misuse.

KEYWORDS:

Abuse; dispensing; gabapentinoid; misuse; poisoning; pregabalin

PMID:
30098227
DOI:
10.1111/add.14412

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