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Pregabalin, Gabapentin, Abuse, Misuse, Off-label use
Background: Since their introduction as adjunct anticonvulsants, the use of gabapentinoids (gabapentin and pregabalin) has increased substantially worldwide to include a wide range of clinical conditions. Various reports have demonstrated that they possess addiction liability and can produce effects similar to traditional recreational drugs, such as significant euphoric effects, enhanced sociability, and relaxation. However, there is limited information on the use of these agents in the Middle East. Objectives: Here, we describe the usage pattern of gabapentinoids at Sultan Qaboos University Hospital, a tertiary care medical institution in Oman. Methods: Adult patients (≥18 years) who were prescribed gabapentinoids for six months (March–August 2019) were included in this retrospective cross-sectional study. Indications and dosing regimens were reviewed according to the Food and Drug Administration labeling. Controlled and restricted drugs were reviewed using Oman National Formulary. Institutional ethical approval was obtained before conducting the study. Results: We analyzed 291 prescriptions. The mean (standard deviation, SD) age was 60.5 years (SD = 13.0) with the age group of ≥60 years being the most common (190, 65.3%). Most of patients were females (178, 61.2%). The majority of prescriptions were for outpatients (85.8%). Drugs were prescribed as refill and follow-up in 116 (40.0%) and 97 (33.4%) of prescriptions, respectively. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (50, 79.4%) was the most labeled indication for both. Off-label use was 128 (51.8%) and 31 (70.5%) for pregabalin and gabapentin, respectively, with lower back pain as being the most common indication for both drugs. A total of 54 (19.0%) patients were using at least one of the psychotropic drugs. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that gabapentinoids are frequently prescribed for off-label use. Awareness programs and the establishment of policy for the use of these drugs are required to ensure their rational use and prevent misuse and/or abuse.
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