We at Pain Concern wish to address the recent articles published in Pulse Today titled ‘Pregabalin and gabapentine set to become controlled drugs’ on the 21st September, and the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on the 25th September 2017 titled ‘UK government to reclassify pregabalin and gabapentin after rise in deaths.’
The terms dependence and addiction are used as if interchangeable; they are not. With regards to deaths associated with these drugs it is entirely unclear whether these are due to taking as prescribed, taking at doses higher than prescribed, taken with other (potentially addictive drugs such as opioids) – and therefore, abuse – or taken in increasing doses alone or in combination with recreational drugs and/or alcohol.
We note with concern a rise in the number of deaths associated with the ingestion of pregabin and gabapentin. It is unclear what proportion of these were in people taking these drugs as prescribed or abusing the drugs by taking excessively large doses, or in combination with other prescribed or recreational drugs or alcohol. We support open and informed discussion between patients and their prescribers about the likely benefits of treatment and potential adverse effects, including the risks of dependency, addiction and interactions with other drugs.
We recognise that a significant number of people do not derive benefit from these drugs even when prescribed appropriately for nerve pain, and would encourage them to consult with their GP about alternative ways of controlling their pain. We share the concerns of those who are deriving significant benefit from these drugs: that it will prove more difficult to get them when they are reclassified as Controlled Substances.
Pain Concern is committed to the dissemination of accurate and clinician approved information regarding the treatment of chronic pain directly to the patients themselves. This includes information on the use and misuse of prescription drugs. As such, we feel the need to address this issue in the strongest possible terms.