Warning over pregabalin misuse since PBS-listing

One in seven Australian patients prescribed the drug are at high risk of abuse

The neuropathic pain therapy pregabalin is becoming a drug of abuse, with overdoses rising dramatically, researchers say.

The drug has been implicated in 88 deaths over a decade in NSW alone, with a substantial increase in mortality since being listed on the PBS in 2013.

A study shows that higher-strength tablets are linked to recreational use and deliberate self-poisoning.

“Our study suggests that one in seven Australians prescribed pregabalin is a high-risk user,” say the researchers, led by pharmacist Dr Rose Cairns (PhD) from the NSW Poisons Information Centre.

These patients are seeing multiple doctors, seeking refills less than 20 days later or being prescribed opioids or benzodiazepines in the same month, the researchers say.

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