Gabapentin to Become a Controlled Substance in Kentucky

Released: 04/25/2017   By: Heidi Dufrene, PharmD

Kentucky will become the first state to change gabapentin to a Schedule V controlled substance, effective July 1, 2017. Current FDA-approved indications for gabapentin are post-herpetic neuralgia and seizures. However, gabapentin is most often prescribed off label to treat a number of conditions including neuropathic pain. Gabapentin is structurally related to Lyrica (Pregabalin) which has been a Schedule V controlled substance since its release to the market. Although not originally labeled as having a high potential for abuse, there has been an increase in the illicit use of gabapentin. According to the American Addiction Center, those who abuse gabapentin describe a rush of euphoria or “high” when using the drug. People who abuse gabapentin often take extremely high doses of the drug or combine it with illicit substances to enhance its effects. Prescribers should be aware of this illicit use and monitor patients receiving gabapentin closely for signs of misuse or abuse.
After July 1, 2017, all prescriptions written for gabapentin in Kentucky must follow federal and state regulations for controlled substances. Current prescriptions for gabapentin will still be valid if the prescriber has a valid DEA number, is authorized to prescribe control substances, has not been filled more than five times, and was written less than six months prior to this date. Pharmacies will need to conduct an initial inventory of gabapentin on July 1st and include it in their biennial control substance inventory. This change will also require all pharmacies or dispensing physicians to submit gabapentin dispensing data to the state prescription monitoring database, KASPER.
Some states already require reporting gabapentin to their state databases, such as Ohio, Minnesota, and Virginia. With Kentucky classifying gabapentin as a Schedule V, other states, or even federal laws, may soon decide to do the same.

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