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Gabapentin, Opioid Alternative, Abused Widely

Gabapentin, Opioid Alternative, Abused Widely

Gabapentin, a drug often prescribed in place of dangerous opioids, comes under fire for widespread misuse. Experts and state officials debate making it a controlled substance.

The prescribed purpose of gabapentin treats seizures and nerve pain in adults. However, illicit drug consumers use it as an enhancement to other drugs. They also use it to undercut withdrawal symptoms as they come off other drugs.

Cameron McNamee, director of policy and communications for the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, suggests a “near future” discussion may take place. Such a meeting would determine whether gabapentin becomes a controlled substance, in light of its misuse.

Controlled substances include both illegal drugs and legal drugs available by prescription. Those in the latter camp face more stringent regulations dictating who receives the drug and how much.

Gabapentin Added to Watch List

Back in 2016, Ohio state added gabapentin to the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System to track its sale. As a result, the database revealed the drug sold 413 million doses in 2018, compared with 467 million doses of opioid drugs.

Across the United States, it reached the 4th spot in the list of most prescribed pills as of last July.

State law enforcement agencies report encountering the drug’s wide availability through illegal channels. Users often combine gabapentin with heroin, the Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network states.

The numbers from OARRS charted the drug’s rise in prescriptions. In addition to reports from law enforcement, state officials and medical experts consider making the drug a controlled substance.

During a time of increased awareness of prescription drug availability and abuse, concerns focus on the spread of additional pills available to misuse. However, making gabapentin a controlled substance creates barriers for patients that actually need and use the drug appropriately.

Other midwestern states have already made the decision to mark it as a controlled substance. Ohio may be next.

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