WASHINGTON, D.C. — Officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned patients who take nerve pain medications could experience severe side effects such as breathing problems in addition to premature death. The warning announced by the FDA specified gabapentin and pregabalin as two nerve pain-relieving drugs that could cause devastating side effects. Both gabapentin and pregabalin are prescribed to millions of patients to treat pain associated with nerve problems including seizure disorders, shingles, diabetes, and post-surgical pain acceding to CBS New York. The prescriptions can also be used to treat restless leg syndrome and fibromyalgia.
Officials from the FDA warned doctors and patients alike that gabapentin and pregabalin generically referred to as gabapentinoids, could trigger a deadly reaction in the lungs if combined with opioids. The FDA also indicated that gabapentinoids are prescribed widely and have become drugs that could be misused. When misused, the gabapentinoids and an opioid, which is a class of drugs that suppress the central nervous system, combine to suppress respiratory function.
The results obtained by the FDA were from a five-year study that examined at least 50 cases of serious breathing problems caused by gabapentin and pregabalin. Among those 50 cases of severe breathing problems, twelve people died from respiratory arrest. The FDA added that taking gabapentin or pregabalin on their own does not increase the risk of developing severe breathing problems.
Gabapentin and pregabalin are the generic forms of numerous prescription medications. Those prescription medications include Gralise, Lyrica, Horizant, and Neurontin. The FDA has not requested the makers of gabapentin or pregabalin to recall the drugs because of the risk identified by the FDA.
Patients who are prescribed gabapentin or pregabalin should not take any prescription opioids without first consulting with their physicians about the possible negative side effects.
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