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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
June 28, 2022

Gabapentin Increasingly Implicated in Overdose Deaths

JAMA. 2022;327(24):2387. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.10100

Postmortem toxicology tests detected gabapentin in almost 1 in 10 US overdose deaths between 2019 and 2020. In about half of the cases, a medical examiner or coroner ruled the drug was a cause of the death, according to a report from the CDC’s Division of Overdose Prevention.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved gabapentin for treating seizures and pain associated with shingles. But growing off-label prescribing of gabapentin for nerve pain and other conditions contributed to its prescription rate doubling from about 13 to 27 per 1000 insurance beneficiaries between 2009 and 2016. In fact, by 2019, gabapentin had become the seventh most prescribed drug in the US.

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