Gabapentin linked to overdose deaths, medical malpractice

Gabapentin (Neurontin) is a frequently prescribed medication that has recently been in the news for causing serious complications and injuries even death.

FDA-approved uses

According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), gabapentin is indicated for two uses:

• Post-herpetic neuralgia in adults.

• Treatment of seizures. The product label lists warnings and precautions including drug reactions, anaphylaxis, driving impairment, somnolence/sedation, dizziness, and even suicidal thoughts.

Off-label uses

When the Neurontin patent expired in 2004, it became available as a generic medication called gabapentin. The off-label uses then exploded, with physicians and prescribers ordering it for:

• Bipolar disorder

• Diabetic neuropathy

• Complex regional pain syndrome

• Attention deficit disorder (ADD)

• Restless leg syndrome

• Trigeminal neuralgia

• Periodic limb movement disorders of sleep (PLMDs)

• Premenstrual syndrome

• Migraine headaches

• Drug and alcohol withdrawal seizures

By 2019, gabapentin became the seventh most prescribed drug in America.

Link to overdose deaths

According to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), postmortem toxicology tests found gabapentin in nearly 10% of all overdose deaths in the United States in 2019–2020. In half of those cases, gabapentin was identified as the drug that was a cause of death.

Medical malpractice

Texas Medical Board Rule 169.3 states that, “A physician may personally administer those drugs to his or her patients, which are, in the physician’s medical judgment, therapeutically beneficial or necessary for the patient’s treatment. A physician may delegate to any qualified and properly trained person the authority to administer drugs.” Under Texas law, physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) can provide drugs when they have an agreement with physician, which includes supervision.

Whether a physician, PA, or NP, when prescribing drugs like gabapentin, the standard of care requires:

• The medication is indicated for the patient.

• Medication reconciliation, involving checking the patient’s other drugs to minimize the risk of a reaction.

• The dose is appropriate.

• Monitoring the patient’s response to the medication.

The failure to follow these safety rules may be medical negligence or malpractice and can cause serious injury to patients.

If you’ve been seriously injured because of a prescription for gabapentin in Texas, then contact a top-rated, experienced Texas medical malpractice attorney for a free consultation about your potential case.

Robert Painter
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Robert Painter

Robert Painter is an award-winning medical malpractice attorney at Painter Law Firm Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Houston, Texas. He is a former hospital administrator who represents patients and family members in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits all over Texas. Contact him for a free consultation and strategy session by calling 281-580-8800 or emailing him right now.