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Gulf Breeze Recovery on a Common Medication Becoming a Threat for Overdose

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Gabapentin, on the market since 1993 and sold under the brand name Neurontin, is a nonopioid medication approved to treat seizure disorders and nerve pain like that commonly associated with shingles. Recently gabapentin has been showing up in a disturbing number of overdose deaths.

GULF BREEZE, Fla. (PRWEB) December 12, 2018

Gabapentin, on the market since 1993 and sold under the brand name Neurontin, is a nonopioid medication approved to treat seizure disorders and nerve pain like that commonly associated with shingles. Recently gabapentin has been showing up in a disturbing number of overdose deaths.

In an all too familiar story, a drug initially viewed as safe is being abused and contributing to overdose deaths. Once considered a substance that had little potential for abuse, gabapentin is being recreationally abused with sometimes deadly results. As opioids become harder to access, individuals are using and misusing gabapentin. Doctors, looking for alternatives to prescribe for pain due to stronger regulations on opioids, are prescribing gabapentin for pain but are sometimes unaware of the drug's abuse potential. Kentucky became the first state to classify gabapentin as a Schedule 5 drug after it was detected in one-third of overdose deaths in 2016. Unlike opioids, no antidote is available for an overdose of gabapentin.

People often mix gabapentin with other drugs, saying that, when used in conjunction with opioids, it will increase their high. Research estimates show that between 15 to 25 percent of opioid abusers also use gabapentin.

In 2004, Warner-Lambert, the company who originally manufactured gabapentin, pled guilty to charges that it promoted gabapentin for multiple unapproved uses. Their aggressive marketing encouraged prescribing gabapentin for migraines, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, and Lou Gehrig's disease. The company agreed to pay over $430 million to settle those charges.

Pharmacy giant Pfizer purchased Warner-Lambert in 2000 and continues to sell gabapentin under the brand name Neurontin. In a statement, the company says that they recognize the importance of preventing misuse and will work with health officials to monitor safety. In addition to Kentucky's action of classifying gabapentin as a schedule 5 drug, several states including West Virginia, Minnesota and Ohio use their prescription databases to track gabapentin prescriptions. A federal response, including possible nationwide reclassification of gabapentin, is being suggested by some researchers, but no federal action has been taken at this time.

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