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Risk of cancer in patients exposed to gabapentin in two electronic medical record systems

PURPOSE: High doses of gabapentin were associated with pancreatic acinar cell tumors in male Wistar rats, but there is little published epidemiological data regarding gabapentin and carcinogenicity. We explored the association between gabapentin and cancer in a US medical care program and followed up nominally significant associations in a UK primary care database. METHODS: In the US Kaiser Permanente Northern California (KPNC) health system, we performed nested case-control analyses of gabapentin and 55 cancer sites and all cancers combined using conditional logistic regression. Up to 10 controls were matched to each case on year of birth, sex, and year of cohort entry. No other covariates were included in models. Only dispensings for gabapentin 2 years or more before index date were considered. Nominally significant associations with an OR > 1.00 and p < 0.05 for three or more dispensings versus no dispensings were followed up by similar nested case-control analyses in the UK General Practice Research Database (GPRD), adjusting for potential indications for gabapentin and risk factors for the specific cancers. RESULTS: The following analyses had OR > 1.00 and p < 0.05 for three or more dispensings of gabapentin versus no dispensing (2-year lag) in KPNC and were also examined in the GPRD: all cancers, breast, lung and bronchus, urinary bladder, kidney/renal pelvis, stomach, anus/anal canal/anorectum, penis, and other nervous system. These cancers were not statistically significantly associated with gabapentin in the GPRD case-control studies (2-year lag). The GPRD and KPNC studies did not identify a statistically significant increased risk of pancreatic cancer with more than two prescriptions of gabapentin in the 2-year lagged analyses. CONCLUSIONS: The epidemiological data in a US cohort with up to 12 years of follow-up and a UK cohort with up to 15 years of follow-up do not support a carcinogenic effect of gabapentin use. However, the confidence intervals for some analyses were wide, and an important effect cannot be confidently excluded. Copyright (c) 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Authors: Irizarry MC; Webb DJ; Boudiaf N; Logie J; Habel LA; Udaltsova N; Friedman GD

Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf. 2012 Feb;21(2):214-25. Epub 2011 Dec 6.

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