In a new study, researchers detected a trend toward an increased use of gabapentinoid medications in patients with cancer in recent years. Results were presented in Supportive Care in Cancer.

“Over time, we observed greater than a twofold increase in crude and adjusted percentages of adults with cancer who used a gabapentinoid medication,” wrote the study authors in their report.

In this cross-sectional survey, researchers examined records from Medical Expenditure Panel Survey data on prescriptions for gabapentin or pregabalin given to US adults with cancer during the years 2005 through 2015. The researchers performed logistic regression analyses to evaluate patterns in the prescribing of gabapentinoids in this population over time.

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In 2005, gabapentinoids were reportedly used by 3.28% of adults with cancer (95% CI, 2.10%-4.23%) included in this analysis. By 2015, this amount grew to 8.26% (95% CI, 6.98%-9.84%; P <.01).

In 2015, the 18- to 44-year-old age group showed the highest rate of gabapentinoid prescriptions. Females showed a higher rate of gabapentinoid use than males did, and regionally, gabapentinoid use was highest among patients in the southern United States.

When adjusted for factors of age, sex, and region, the 2005 percentage of patients who used gabapentinoids was 2.34% (95% CI, 1.28%-3.40%), which rose to 5.60% (95% CI, 3.79%-7.41%) in 2015 (rate ratio, 2.39; P <.001).

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The approximate number of gabapentinoid prescriptions filled by US adults with cancer was 1.19 million in 2005, and it was 3.52 million in 2015.

“To our knowledge, this is the first evidence of a consistent, upward trend of gabapentinoid medication use among adults with cancer in the [United States],” stated the investigators in their report. They recommendation that research be undertaken to evaluate efficacy and safety with gabapentinoids in management of complex pain syndromes.


Fauer AJ, Davis MA, Choi SW, Wallner LP, Friese CR. Use of gabapentinoid medications among US adults with cancer, 2005-2015 [published online October 25, 2019]. Support Care Cancer. doi: 10.1007/s00520-019-05100-9

This article originally appeared on Oncology Nurse Advisor