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Summary

Aim

To assess prescribing patterns, sociodemographic characteristics and previous disease history in patients receiving pregabalin.

Methods

An observational study using register data on dispensed drugs and recorded diagnoses for all patients in Stockholm, Sweden, who filled at least one prescription of pregabalin between July 2005 and December 2009. Analyses focused on prevalence, incidence, diagnosis patterns, prior dispensing of other analgesics/psychotropics and persistence to treatment over time.

Result

A total of 18,626 patients (mean age 55 years, 63% women) were initiated on treatment between July 2006 and December 2009. Approved indications were recorded in hospital and/or primary care within 1 year prior to the first dispensing for 40% of the patients (epilepsy 1.3%, neuropathic pain 35.5% and generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) 3.6%). Antidepressants were used by 55%, opioids by 49% and sedatives by 48% prior to initiation of pregabalin. One-third (34%) only purchased one prescription and the proportion purchasing pregabalin 1 year after initiation was 42.1% for epilepsy, 36.3% for GAD, 21.5% for neuropathic pain and 25.6% for those without any of the included diagnoses.

Conclusion

Pregabalin was mainly used as a second-line drug for the treatment of GAD or neuropathic pain and to a lesser extent as add-on therapy in epilepsy. However, a large proportion of all patients only purchased one prescription and the persistence declined rapidly over time. The issue of potential off-label prescribing or poor registration of diagnoses should also be noted as a high proportion had been prescribed the drug without a record of any of the approved indications.