Prescriptions have risen steeply in recent years, and gabapentinoids are among the top 15 drugs globally in terms of revenue.
The risks are strongest among 15 to 24 year-olds, prompting the researchers to suggest that treatment guidelines for young people should be reviewed.
Studies - Gabapentinoids - Behaviour - Deaths - Findings
Previous studies have linked gabapentinoids to suicidal behaviour and overdose related deaths, but findings have been inconsistent and data on longer term harms are lacking.
Concerns that these drugs are also being used as an opioid substitute and for recreational use have led to prescribing restrictions in several countries, including the UK.
Evidence - Gap - Research - Team - Associations
To help fill this evidence gap, an international research team examined associations between gabapentinoids and a range of harms including suicidal behaviour, unintentional overdose, injuries, road traffic incidents, and violent crime.
Using national prescription, patient, death, and crime registers, they identified 191,973 people aged 15 years and older who were prescribed pregabalin or gabapentin in Sweden between 2006 and 2013.
% - Participants - Women - Years
Overall, 59% of participants were women, and most were 45 years or older.
The researchers then compared the risk of harms during treatment periods with baseline risk during periods without treatment.
Account - Factors - Treatment - Periods - Participants
After taking account of potentially influential factors, they found that during treatment periods, participants were at a 26% increased risk of suicidal behaviour or death from suicide, a 24% increased risk of unintentional overdose, a 22% increased risk of head or body injuries, and a 13% increased risk of road traffic incidents or offences.
There were no statistically significant associations between gabapentinoid treatment and violent crime.
When drugs were examined...
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