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Trends in gabapentinoid prescribing in UK primary care using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink: an observational study

Ashworth, Julie; Bajpai, R; Muller, Sara; Bailey, J; Helliwell, Toby; Harrisson, SA; Whittle, R; Mallen, Christian

Trends in gabapentinoid prescribing in UK primary care using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink: an observational study Thumbnail


Authors

R Whittle



Abstract

Background
The UK government reclassified gabapentin and pregabalin as ‘controlled drugs’ from April 2019. This study aimed to describe the trends in gabapentinoid prescribing before and immediately after reclassification, in the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink, an electronic primary care health record broadly representative of the UK.

Methods
Separately for gabapentin and pregabalin, we calculated annual incident and prevalent prescribing rates from year of UK approval (April 1997 and 2004 respectively) to September 2019, and monthly incident and prevalent prescribing rates (October 2017–September 2019). Significant changes in temporal trends were determined using joinpoint regression. We also described potential prescribing indications, prior pain-related prescribing, and co-prescribing with potentially interacting medicines.

Findings
Incident gabapentin prescribing increased annually, peaking in 2016–17, at 625/100,000 patient years before falling steadily to 2019. Incident pregabalin prescribing peaked at 329/100,000 patient years in 2017–18 and did not fall significantly until 2019. Prevalent gabapentin and pregabalin prescribing increased annually to 2017–18 and 2018–19 respectively, before plateauing. Gabapentinoids were commonly co-prescribed with opioids (60%), antidepressants (52%), benzodiazepines (19%), and Z-drugs (10%).

Interpretation
Following a dramatic rise, incident gabapentinoid prescribing has started to fall but the specific impact of reclassification on prescribing rates remains unclear. Limited change in prevalent gabapentinoid prescribing during the 6 months following their reclassification as controlled drugs suggests little immediate impact on continued gabapentinoid prescribing for existing users.

Funding
National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit Programme. NIHR Applied Research Collaboration West Midlands. NIHR School for Primary Care Research.

Citation

Ashworth, J., Bajpai, R., Muller, S., Bailey, J., Helliwell, T., Harrisson, S., …Mallen, C. (2023). Trends in gabapentinoid prescribing in UK primary care using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink: an observational study. The Lancet Regional Health Europe, 27, Article ARTN 100579. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lanepe.2022.100579

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 22, 2022
Online Publication Date Feb 13, 2023
Publication Date 2023-04
Journal LANCET REGIONAL HEALTH-EUROPE
Print ISSN 2666-7762
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 27
Article Number ARTN 100579
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lanepe.2022.100579
Keywords Pharmacoepidemiology; Pregabalin; Gabapentin; Gabapentinoids; Primary care; Prescriptions
Publisher URL https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2666776222002757?via%3Dihub

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