Higher-Dose Gabapentinoids and the Risk of Adverse Events in Older Adults With CKD: A Population-Based Cohort Study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • RATIONALE & OBJECTIVE: Gabapentinoids are opioid substitutes whose elimination by the kidneys is reduced as kidney function declines. To inform their safe prescribing in older adults with chronic kidney disease (CKD), we examined the 30-day risk of serious adverse events according to the prescribed starting dose. STUDY DESIGN: Population-based cohort study. SETTING & PARTICIPANTS: 74,084 older adults (64% women; median age, 79 [interquartile range, 73-85] years) with CKD (defined for this study as an estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 mL/min/1.73 m2 and excluding those receiving dialysis) and a newly prescribed gabapentinoid between 2008 and 2020 in Ontario, Canada. EXPOSURE: Higher-dose gabapentinoids (gabapentin >300 mg/d or pregabalin >75 mg/d) versus lower-dose gabapentinoids (gabapentin ≤300 mg/d or pregabalin ≤75 mg/d). OUTCOMES: The primary composite outcome was the 30-day risk of a hospital visit with encephalopathy, a fall, or a fracture or a hospitalization with respiratory depression. ANALYTICAL APPROACH: Comparison groups were balanced on indicators of baseline health using inverse probability of treatment weighting using propensity score analysis that generated a pseudosample for the reference group with a distribution of measured covariates similar to the exposed group. Weighted risk ratios were estimated using modified Poisson regression, and weighted risk differences were estimated using binomial regression. Prespecified subgroup analyses were conducted by estimated glomerular filtration rate category and type of gabapentinoid. RESULTS: Among 74,084 patients identified with CKD and a new prescription for gabapentin or pregabalin, 41% started at >300 or >75 mg/d, respectively. From this set of patients, a weighted study population with a size of 61,367 was generated. Patients who started at a higher dose had a higher 30-day risk of the primary outcome than patients who started at lower dose. Within the weighted population, the numbers of events for higher versus lower dose were 585 of 30,660 (1.9%) versus 462 of 30,707 (1.5%), respectively. The weighted risk ratio was 1.27 (95% CI, 1.13-1.42), and the weighted risk difference was 0.40% (95% CI, 0.21%-0.60%). In subgroup analyses, neither multiplicative nor additive interactions were statistically significant. LIMITATIONS: Residual confounding. CONCLUSIONS: In this population-based study, starting a gabapentinoid at a higher versus a lower dose was associated with a slightly higher risk of a hospital visit with encephalopathy, a fall, or a fracture or hospitalization with respiratory depression. If verified, these risks should be balanced against the benefits of using a higher-dose gabapentinoid.


  • Muanda, Flory T
  • Weir, Matthew A
  • Ahmadi, Fatemeh
  • Sontrop, Jessica M
  • Cowan, Andrea
  • Fleet, Jamie L
  • Blake, Peter G
  • Garg, Amit

publication date

  • July 2022