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Use of gabapentinoid medications among US adults with cancer, 2005–2015



Gabapentinoid use for long-term cancer pain control may be problematic, given unclear mechanisms of action and increased concerns for physical dependence. The purpose of this report is to examine trends of gabapentinoid use among US adults with cancer from 2005 to 2015.


We conducted a serial, cross-sectional study using data from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS). We performed multiple logistic regression to examine the annual percentages of gabapentinoid users, which were adjusted for age, sex, and US region of residence. The amount of gabapentinoid prescriptions filled in 2015 was also estimated.


The adjusted percentage of gabapentinoid users in 2015 was 5.60% (3.79%, 7.41%), 2.39 times greater than the percentage in 2005 (p < .001). By 2015, the number of gabapentinoid prescriptions had grown to approximately 3.52 million (2.40 million, 4.65 million).


We observed greater than a twofold increase in the trend of gabapentinoid medication use among US adults with cancer. Investigations on the long-term efficacy of gabapentinoids for complex pain syndromes, and mitigation of risks, is essential to guide informed clinical management and keep patients safe.

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Mr. Fauer is supported in part by a Doctoral Scholarship in Cancer Nursing (133507-DSCN-19-048-01-SCN) from the American Cancer Society; the Jonas Nurse Scholars Program; and the Hillman Scholars Program in Nursing Innovation. Research reported in this paper was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award number P30CA046592 (Friese).

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Concept and design: Fauer, Davis, and Friese. Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: all authors. Drafting of the manuscript: all authors. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: all authors. Statistical analysis: Fauer and Davis. Administrative, technical, or material support: all authors. Supervision: all authors.

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Correspondence to Alex J. Fauer.

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Fauer, A.J., Davis, M.A., Choi, S.W. et al. Use of gabapentinoid medications among US adults with cancer, 2005–2015. Support Care Cancer 28, 5–8 (2020).

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  • Cancer
  • Supportive care
  • Gabapentin
  • Practice pattern