This Combination of Neuropathy Drugs Can Be Deadly
This is very important information if you or a loved one have neuropathy and are using drug therapy to manage painful symptoms.
New research shows that people who are prescribed gabapentin and opioids for pain management have a 49% increased risk of death compared to those prescribed opioids alone. This combination of drugs can be used in more advanced cases of neuropathy. It is important to note that the dose of gabapentin is related to the risk of death, as people taking gabapentin at a dose greater than 900 mg/d and opioids are at nearly 60% increased risk of death compared to those prescribed opioids alone. This research suggests a direct relationship between gabapentin dose and increased risk of death.
There appears to be an interaction between gabapentin and opioids that leads to death. Opioids are thought to cause higher than normal absorption of gabapentin in the digestive system. This results in higher than expected levels of gabapentin in the body. At high doses, gabapentin can decrease breathing and result in a fatal outcome.
About Gabapentin – gabapentin, also known as Neurontin, is a first line drug therapy for the treatment of neuropathy symptoms. It helps to lower pain by blocking calcium channels that are needed for nerve transmission of pain in the central nervous system. Recent research has brought into question the effectiveness of Gabapentin, as less than 30% of people treated experienced meaningful benefits.
About Opioids – opioids are a class of drug known for their pain relieving capability – click here for a list of opioid drugs. Opioids are second or third line therapies after patients’ symptoms become more advanced. Opioids provide rapid pain relief by blocking peripheral and central nerves and leave patients with a feeling of euphoria. While opioids are effective for relieving pain, there is a very high risk of dependency and fatal complications.
About Other Pain Management Options - While drug therapy can block different aspects of pain, there are other non-pharmacological approaches that have been scientifically evaluated including nutrition therapy and different types of exercise and meditation that can be considered adjunctive therapy.
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Gomes T, Juurlink DN, Antoniou T, Mamdani MM, Paterson JM, van den Brink W. Gabapentin, opioids, and the risk of opioid-related death: A population-based nested case-control study. PLoS Med. 2017 Oct 3;14(10):e1002396.