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West Virginia begins tracking gabapentin after related overdose deaths increase

Renatta Signorini
| Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, 1:18 p.m.

States neighboring Pennsylvania have seen a new drug contributing to overdose deaths in recent months and years — gabapentin.

More drug overdose deaths in the last few years in West Virginia are being attributed the nerve pain medication sold as Neurontin, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported.

The state's Board of Pharmacy has begun to track sales of the prescription medication and designated it a “drug of concern,” the newspaper reported.

Overdose deaths related to gabapentin increased from 36 in 2012 to 106 in 2016 in West Virginia, according to the article.

Lawmakers there are taking steps to classify it as a controlled substance in the state.

Gabapentin is being tracked by state officials in Ohio and Kentucky, news outlets there reported.

The Ohio Substance Abuse Monitoring Network issued an alert this year that gabapentin abuse had been on the rise, the Chillicothe Gazette reported. The Ohio Board of Pharmacy began tracking prescriptions for it a year ago.

In July, Kentucky lawmakers added it to the list of controlled substances there after years of reported abuse, according to an article in the Bowling Green Daily News.

Gabapentin was not listed in the top 10 drugs that have contributed to drug overdose deaths in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties in 2016 or 2017.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, or via Twitter @byrenatta.

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