Abuse liability of flupirtine revisited: Implications of spontaneous reports of adverse drug reactions



Early studies suggested that the centrally acting non-opioid and non-steroidal analgesic flupirtine (FLP) has no potential for abuse. However, FLP's agonistic effects at the GABAA receptor might prime addictive behaviors, and literature provides some anecdotal reports on FLP abuse/dependence. To shed more light on this topic we acquired and evaluated data obtained from a national German pharmacovigilance database. We analyzed all reports of FLP abuse/dependence that were recorded in the database of the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM). A total of n = 48 reports of FLP abuse/dependence could be identified (mean age 45 years, 62.5% female). First reports were submitted to BfArM in 1991 with increasing numbers of annual reports from the year 2006 on. Mean daily FLP dosage was 805 mg (range 200–3,000 mg). Current or previous substance abuse/dependence was reported in 21% and 17%, respectively. Mean duration of FLP abuse/dependence until report to BfArM was 23 months (range 1–84 months). Withdrawal syndromes after discontinuation of FLP were reported in n = 9 (19%). Our findings strengthen the hypothesis that FLP features a potential to cause addictive behaviors. Female sex, age >40 years, and long-term FLP-treatment may be possible risk factors for the development of FLP abuse/dependence.