FDA warns of breathing risks with popular nerve drugs

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is adding new warnings to prescription nerve medications used to treat seizures, nerve pain and other conditions

The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday it would add new warnings to packaging for Neurontin, Lyrica and generic versions, which are used to treat seizures, nerve pain, restless leg syndrome and other conditions.

The new labels will warn doctors against prescribing the drugs with other medications that can slow breathing, including opioid painkillers. The breathing risks also apply to elderly patients and those with existing lung problems.

While the nerve drugs are not FDA-approved for conventional muscle and joint pain, doctors frequently prescribe them for those uses and others, including treatment of migraines and psychiatric conditions.

The FDA also said it will require drugmakers to conduct new studies of the abuse risks of the drugs, especially in combination with opioids.

The agency said it received nearly 50 reports of breathing problems linked to gabapentin and pregabalin between 2012 and 2017, including 12 deaths. While drugmakers are required to report problems to the FDA, it's voluntary for doctors and patients.

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