Pregabalin prescription for terminally ill cancer patients receiving specialist palliative care in an acute hospital.

Pregabalin is recommended as an adjuvant analgesic for neuropathic cancer-related pain, and may be taken at all steps of the World Health Organization analgesic ladder. However, unlike opioids, pregabalin treatments are limited to an oral administration route. If patients have oral feeding difficulties, it is not possible to administer any drug as an adjuvant analgesic for neuropathic cancer-related pain. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to clarify the problems of pain control after pregabalin discontinuation in terminally ill cancer patients.

Our subjects comprised cancer patients who died during their hospital stay and were referred between April 2013 and October 2015 to the palliative care team of the 899-bed Cancer Hospital at the Nippon Medical School Hospital in Japan. The medical records of each patient were retrospectively reviewed, and patient characteristics were recorded.

We obtained data on 183 patients during the study period. Thirty-eight (20.8 %) patients were treated with pregabalin. Thirty-three (86.8 %) out of 38 patients were prescribed pregabalin for neuropathic cancer-related pain. The incidence of bony metastases was significantly higher in patients administered pregabalin than in those not taking the drug (non-pregabalin group 32.4 % vs pregabalin group 57.9 %). Pregabalin was ultimately discontinued in all patients, with the main reason being oral feeding difficulties (81.6 %). After the discontinuation of pregabalin, the amount of opioid drugs administered was increased in 56.5 % of patients with oral feeding difficulties.

Our results demonstrated that the amount of opioid drugs administered was increased in more than 50 % of patients following the discontinuation of pregabalin, and was repeatedly increased for some patients. A new administration route is required for cancer patients unable to take oral medication.

UMIN000022507. May 28, 2016 retrospectively registered.

Journal of pharmaceutical health care and sciences. 2016 Nov 05*** epublish ***

Ryo Yajima, Kazuaki Matsumoto, Yuya Ise, Norihito Suzuki, Yuta Yokoyama, Junko Kizu, Shiro Katayama

Section of Pharmaceutical Services, Nippon Medical School Hospital, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8603 Japan ; Division of Practical Pharmacy, Keio University Faculty of Pharmacy, 1-5-30 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 105-8512 Japan., Division of Practical Pharmacy, Keio University Faculty of Pharmacy, 1-5-30 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 105-8512 Japan., Section of Pharmaceutical Services, Nippon Medical School Hospital, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8603 Japan., Department of Anesthesiology, Nippon Medical School, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8603 Japan ; Department of Palliative Care, Nippon Medical School Hospital, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-8603 Japan.