Clinical Drug Investigation

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 373–380 | Cite as

Intentional Drug Overdose Involving Pregabalin and Gabapentin: Findings from the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland, 2007–2015

  • Caroline DalyEmail author
  • Eve Griffin
  • Darren M. Ashcroft
  • Roger T. Webb
  • Ivan J. Perry
  • Ella Arensman
short communication



Intentional drug overdose (IDO) is a significant public health problem. Concerns about the misuse of gabapentinoids, i.e. pregabalin and gabapentin, including their consumption in IDO have grown in recent years. This paper examines the trends in the prevalence of gabapentinoids taken in IDO, the profile of individuals taking them, and associated overdose characteristics.


Presentations to emergency departments involving IDO, recorded by the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2015 were examined. Data items included patient demographics, drug names, total tablet quantity consumed and alcohol involvement.


Gabapentinoids were involved in 2115 (2.9%) of the 72,391 IDOs recorded. Presentations involving a gabapentinoid increased proportionally from 0.5% in 2007 to 5.5% in 2015. The majority of IDOs involving a gabapentinoid were made by females (59.9%), with over one-third (37.2%) involving alcohol. Compared with IDOs involving other drugs, presentations with a gabapentinoid were made by persons who were older (median 37 vs. 32 years) and involved a significantly greater median quantity of tablets (30 vs. 21, p ≤ 0.001), with over one-quarter (27.4%) of these involving the ingestion of 50 tablets or more. Admission to hospital was significantly more common following IDOs with a gabapentinoid compared with those without (49.4% vs. 41.4%, p ≤ 0.001).


This study identified the increasing use of gabapentinoids in IDO, describing the profile and overdose characteristics of presentations. It is important for clinicians to exercise vigilance while prescribing gabapentinoids, including being aware of other medications that their patients may have access to. Our findings support the need for routine monitoring for signs of misuse among those prescribed gabapentinoids.



The authors would like to thank the DROs who work on the National Self-Harm Registry Ireland, collecting information on self-harm presentations to hospitals across Ireland.


This research was conducted as part of a Ph.D. that was jointly funded by the University of Manchester and the National Suicide Research Foundation, Cork, Ireland. The National Self-Harm Registry Ireland is funded by the Health Service Executive’s National Office for Suicide Prevention.

Compliance and Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

Ms. Caroline Daly, Dr Eve Griffin, Prof. Darren M. Ashcroft, Prof. Roger T. Webb, Prof Ivan J. Perry and Prof Ella Arensman have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethics Approval

The National Self-Harm Registry Ireland has received ethical approval from the National Research Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine and the Clinical Research Ethics Committees of all 36 hospitals. The National Suicide Research Foundation is registered with the Data Protection Agency and complies with the Irish Data Protection Act of 1988 and the Irish Data Protection (Amendment) Act of 2003.

Supplementary material

40261_2017_616_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (52 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 51 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Suicide Research FoundationUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  2. 2.Centre for Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and HealthUniversity of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre (MAHSC)ManchesterUK
  3. 3.NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research CentreUniversity of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre (MAHSC)ManchesterUK
  4. 4.Centre for Mental Health and Safety, Division of Psychology and Mental Health, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and HealthUniversity of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre (MAHSC)ManchesterUK
  5. 5.School of Public HealthUniversity College CorkCorkIreland

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