Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Drug and Alcohol Dependence




107709 (8 pp.)


Background: Although there have been increasing reports of intentional gabapentin misuse, epidemiological evidence for the phenomenon is limited. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there are pharmacovigilance abuse signals for gabapentin.

Methods: Using FDA Adverse Events Reporting System reports from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2015, we calculated pharmacovigilance signal measures (i.e., reporting odds ratio, proportional reporting ratio, information component, and empirical Bayes geometric mean) for abuse-related adverse event (AR-AE)-gabapentin pairs. Loglinear modeling assessed the frequency of concurrent reporting of abuse-related and abusespecific AEs (AS-AEs) associated with gabapentin. Findings were compared to a positive (pregabalin) and negative (duloxetine) control.

Results: From 2005-2015 there were 5,951,229 unique AE reports submitted to the FDA including 99,977 for gabapentin, 73,977 for duloxetine, and 97,813 for pregabalin. Significant drug-AR-AE pair signals involving gabapentin included: drug abuser, multiple drug overdose, and substance-induced psychotic disorder. Significant drug AR-AE signals involving gabapentin and pregabalin, but not duloxetine, were: ataxia, dependence, drug abuse, increased drug tolerance, and overdose. Compared to duloxetine, gabapentin had significantly greater odds of a coreport for an AS-AE with drug withdrawal syndrome (OR: 6.55), auditory hallucinations (OR: 4.57), delusions (OR: 2.36), euphoric mood (OR: 5.45), ataxia (OR: 2.85), drug abuser (OR: 3.01), aggression (OR: L98), psychotic disorder (OR: 1.96), and feeling abnormal (OR: 1.31).

Conclusions: We identified abuse-related signals for gabapentin and highlighted several CNS effects that may be associated with its abuse. Gabapentin prescribers should be aware of the drug's abuse liability and effects that may accompany its use.


This submission contains material that previously formed part of the first author’s PhD dissertation, which was published in 2016 according to the University of Kentucky requirements.

Green Open Access

© 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original Publication Citation

Vickers-Smith, R., Sun, J., Charnigo, R. J., Lofwall, M. R., Walsh, S. L., & Havens, J. R. (2020). Gabapentin drug misuse signals: A pharmacovigilance assessment using the FDA adverse event reporting system. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 206, 107709. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107709