A wave of overdose has led the West Virginia Board of Pharmacy to designate a nerve pain medication called gabapentin as a "drug of concern."
Mike Goff, acting executive director of the board, conveyed concerns on Tuesday about lawmakers about the drug, which is sold under the brand name Neurontin and is used to treat conditions such as seizures and pain caused by shingles, reported The Charleston Gazette-Mail.
"There has been a large increase in the number of gabapentin waivers," and overdose, Goff said.
The number of deaths from drug-related overdoses has increased from 36 in 2012 to 106 cases last year, Goff said. He added that his board of directors has begun to track the sales of the drug.
Separately, state lawmakers are expected to introduce legislation next month that classifies gabapentin as a controlled substance in West Virginia. The classification would increase the information requirements and probably reduce the amount of pills prescribed. A draft of a bill recently circulated by legislative staff targeting the opiate crisis also includes a proposal for new restrictions on gabapentin.
The US Food and Drug Administration. UU Approved gabapentin to treat seizures and pain caused by herpes zoster. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention UU They have promoted the drug as a safer alternative to prescription opioids.
"It has a market value in the streets," said the president of the West Virginia State Medical Association, Dr. Brad Henry. "It is being abused and meets the definition of a scheduled medication."
Ohio has been tracking drug sales with gabapentin for more than a year. Kentucky designated gabapentin as a controlled substance in July.