Electronic medical case files of male prisoners in a category B prison in London were studied to establish a prevalence during an eight-month period of the use of and the reasons for prescribing gabapentinoids in prison and also to establish prescribing standards in prison and compliance with these. In addition, the prevalence of co-prescription of gabapentinoids with opioids and antidepressants, particularly tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, was also assessed in light of the increased risk of respiratory depression resulting in death when these drugs are used in combination. The paper aims to discuss these issues.
A retrospective, SystmOne case-file based survey was undertaken searching by SNOMED CT supplemented by examination of free text, in a category B prison for males (Capacity 1,500 prisoners; Average turnover of prisoners up to 6,000 per year), to establish practice standards related to the prescription of Gabapentinoids in the prison and determine compliance with these.
In total, 109 cases were identified of prisoners having been prescribed gabapentinoids, pregabalin in 66 cases (61 per cent) and gabapentin in 43 cases (39 per cent). In 36 cases (33 per cent) prescriptions were for unlicensed indications. This in fact represented 50 per cent of the cases where the indications were documented. In 51 cases (47 per cent) gabapentinoids were prescribed with an opioid substitute. In 14 cases (13 per cent), prescribed gabapentinoids were diverted to other prisoners.
The initiation of gabapentinoids in prison should be avoided. For prisoners who are also receiving opioid substitutes or are abusing opiates, it may be unsafe to continue on gabapentinoids. Issues raised by this study are likely to apply to other prisons, secure forensic psychiatric facilities and indeed community mental health and primary care as well.
Risk of dependance on gabapentinoids including risk of mortality when taken with opioids and opioid substitutes.
This is an original study conducted at a category B prison in London.
Soni, A. and Walters, P. (2019), "A study of the reasons for prescribing and misuse of gabapentinoids in prison including their co-prescription with opioids and antidepressants", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 67-77. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPH-01-2019-0004Download as .RIS
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