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Treatment with gabapentinoids - a group of drugs used for epilepsy, nerve pain and anxiety disorders - is associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviour, unintentional overdose, injuries, and road traffic incidents.

Image shows a variety of pills cascaded out on the table with different types of packaging scattered about too.

This new study, Associations between gabapentinoids and suicidal behaviour, unintentional overdoses, injuries, road traffic incidents, and violent crime: population based cohort study in Sweden, was published in the BMJ, 12 June 2019. It shows the risks are strongest amongst 15 to 24 year-olds, prompting the researchers to suggest that treatment guidelines for young people should be reviewed.

An international research team examined associations between gabapentinoids and a range of harms including suicidal behaviour, unintentional overdose, injuries, road traffic incidents, and violent crime. Previous studies have linked gabapentinoids to suicidal behaviour and overdose related deaths, but findings have been inconsistent and data on longer term harms are lacking.

Using national prescription, patient, death, and crime registers, the research team identified 191,973 people aged 15 years and older who were prescribed pregabalin or gabapentin in Sweden between 2006 and 2013. The researchers then compared the risk of harms during treatment periods with baseline risk during periods without treatment.

After taking account of potentially influential factors, they found that during treatment periods, participants were at a 26% increased risk of suicidal behaviour or death from suicide, a 24% increased risk of unintentional overdose, a 22% increased risk of head or body injuries, and a 13% increased risk of road traffic incidents or offences. The risks were higher in pregabalin than gabapentin and also in younger people, especially those under 25 years. There were no clear associations between gabapentinoid treatment and violent crime.


Further research is needed to better understand the increased risks found in adolescents and young adults prescribed gabapentinoids, particularly for suicidal behaviour and unintentional overdoses. Our research shows that clinical guidelines need review

Professor Seena Fazel, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford.


View the full press release


  • Anxiety drugs widely prescribed in the UK linked to 26% rise in suicide risk, study shows
    The Independent
  • Common epilepsy drug pregabalin linked to increased risk of suicide
    The Times online
  • Gabapentinoids Tied to Suicidal Behavior and Unintentional Overdose


Please follow the link below to read the news on the NIHR BRC website.