WV Pharmacy Board Designates Gabapentin as 'Drug of Concern'

Overdose deaths related to it jumped from 36 in 2012 to 106 in 2016, the Charleston Gazette-Mail's Eric Eyre reported.

The West Virginia Board of Pharmacy has designated gabapentin, a drug used to control seizures for people with epilepsy and sold under the brand name Neurontin -- a "drug of concern," Charleston Gazette-Mail Statehouse Reporter Eric Eyre reported Dec. 5.

His report said the board is tracking gabapentin sales. "In a recent month, West Virginia pharmacies filled prescriptions for 5.8 million gabapentin tablets – more than the combined number of doses of two popular painkillers, hydrocodone and oxycodone," he wrote, adding that gabapentin-related overdose deaths jumped from 36 in 2012 to 106 last year.

Eyre's report quoted Mike Goff, the board's acting executive director, as telling state lawmakers Dec. 5: "There has been a tremendous increase in the number of gabapentin dispensings and [those] involving overdoses. We're tracking the drug now, and we're seeing what we thought we would see."

On Nov. 29, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced it is accepting applications for $1million in grants for Opioid State Targeted Response Supplements in order to expand and enhance prevention, treatment, and recovery support efforts in the states hardest hit by the U.S. opioid epidemic. SAMHSA will award grants to three states with the highest overdose death rates and rate of increase in death rates; the new funding follows last year's announcement of $1 billion in grants, which SAMHSA distributed to states and territories based on number of overdose deaths and the number of people needing treatment, according to the agency. SAMHSA said it expects to fund three grants of $333,000 for one year, but the actual award amount may vary, depending on the availability of funds.

Eligible applicants are Opioid STR grantees with the 10 highest rates of overdose deaths in 2015, according to data reported by CDC. The eligible states are Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, and West Virginia. Applications are due by Jan. 16, 2018.

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