Australian paramedics are responding to cases related to the drug pregabalin at ten times the rate they were in 2012, coinciding with a growing global trend of substance misuse, research revealed on Monday, Xinhua reports.
Pregabalin was originally developed as an anti-epileptic drug but is now used to treat fibromyalgia, anxiety and nerve pain.
However, according to research by the Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in Melbourne, cases of people taking the drug for its euphoric effects or to self harm have surged in recent years.
Individuals take higher than recommended doses of pregabalin for its euphoric effects -- or is implicated in self-harm, the report said.
There is a growing black market for pregabalin in populations at high risk of misuse, including in prisons, where pregabalin is sometimes prescribed for pain relief in preference to opioids.
Alcohol should not be consumed while taking pregabalin, and additive side effects are also possible if it is taken with other central nervous system depressants, including benzodiazepines and narcotic pain medications.
Additionally, the study found that the rate of abuse cases is, strongly correlated with prescription rates in Australia, and a review of pregabalin related ambulance call outs between 2012 and 2017 revealed that in 49 percent of cases the patient had a history which may have precluded them from being prescribed the drug in the first place.
The results have prompted the authors to issue a warning to physicians to be particularly cautious when prescribing the drug.
Source: Kazinform News Agency
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