Association of Gabapentinoids With the Risk of Opioid-Related Adverse Events in Surgical Patients in the United States | Substance Use and Addiction | JAMA Network Open | JAMA Network
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    Original Investigation
    December 29, 2020

    Association of Gabapentinoids With the Risk of Opioid-Related Adverse Events in Surgical Patients in the United States

    Author Affiliations
    • 1Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
    JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(12):e2031647. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.31647
    Key Points

    Question  Is the adjuvant use of gabapentinoids with opioids associated with increased risk of opioid-related adverse events in patients undergoing surgery?

    Findings  In this cohort study of 5 547 667 US surgical admissions, the addition of gabapentinoids to opioids was associated with an increased risk of opioid overdose and other opioid-related adverse events; the absolute risk of adverse events was low.

    Meaning  These findings suggest that patients who receive gabapentinoids with opioids for postoperative analgesia should be closely monitored for possible respiratory depression.


    Importance  The use of gabapentinoids in multimodal postoperative analgesia is increasing; however, when coadministered with opioids, these drugs may potentiate central nervous system and respiratory depression.

    Objective  To evaluate the association between perioperative coadministration of gabapentinoids and opioids with inpatient opioid-related adverse events in surgical patients.

    Design, Setting, and Participants  This cohort study used propensity score trimming, stratification, and weighting of adults admitted for a major surgery between October 2007 and December 2017 who were treated with opioids on the day of surgery and included in the Premier Research database. Data analysis was conducted from February to April 2020.

    Exposure  Gabapentinoids (gabapentin or pregabalin) coadministered with opioids starting the day of surgery vs opioid therapy without gabapentinoids.

    Main Outcomes and Measures  Primary outcome was opioid overdose. Secondary outcomes included respiratory complications, unspecified adverse effects of opioid use, and a composite of these 3 outcomes. Patients were followed up for as long as 30 days from the day of surgery until deviation from the initial treatment regimen or discharge.

    Results  Gabapentinoids with opioids were administered to 892 484 of 5 547 667 eligible admissions (16.1%; mean [SD] age, 63.5 [11.8] years; 353 315 [39.6%] men). Among the 4 655 183 patients who received opioids only, the mean (SD) age was 63.7 (14.7) years, and 1 913 284 (41.1%) were men. Overall, 441 overdose events were identified, with absolute risks of 1.4 per 10 000 patients with gabapentinoid exposure and 0.7 per 10 000 patients receiving opioids only. Following propensity score trimming, the cohort included 737 383 patients exposed to gabapentinoids and 3 002 480 patients receiving opioids only. The primary analysis yielded the adjusted hazard ratio of 1.95 (95% CI, 1.49-2.55), and the number needed to treat for an additional overdose to occur was 16 914 patients (95% CI, 11 556-31 537 patients). Adjusted hazard ratios for secondary outcomes were 1.68 (95% CI, 1.59-1.78) for respiratory complications, 1.77 (95% CI, 1.61-1.93) for unspecified adverse effects of opioids, and 1.70 (95% CI, 1.62-1.79) for the composite outcome. The results were consistent across sensitivity analyses and subgroups identified by key clinical factors.

    Conclusions and Relevance  In this real-world cohort study of patients who underwent major surgery, concomitant use of gabapentinoids with opioids was associated with increased risk of opioid overdose and other opioid-related adverse events; however, the absolute risk of adverse events was low.