LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A drug that has been touted as a safe alternative to opioid painkillers was found in nearly one-fourth of all overdose deaths in a Kentucky city last year.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported Tuesday that an analysis of coroner data discovered gabapentin was found in 93 of Jefferson County’s 407 fatal overdoses. The prescription drug is used to treat nerve pain.

University of Louisville nursing school professor Rachel Vickers Smith says gabapentin isn’t believed to be the deaths’ cause because more powerful drugs like heroin were detected, but gabapentin could’ve contributed.

Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy executive director Van Ingram says gabapentin showed in roughly one-third of all drug deaths in 2016 across the state. Kentucky lawmakers responded by classifying it as a controlled substance last year.

Gabapentin is sold under Neurontin and other brand names.


Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

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