Inside Health

BBC Radio 4


Dr Mark Porter demystifies health issues, separating fact from fiction and bringing clarity to conflicting health advice, with the help of regular contributor GP Margaret McCartney


Pregabalin and gabapentin misuse, Natural birth after caesarean, Adrenaline auto-injectors

October 6th, 2015

Episode 296 of 345 episodes

Prescriptions for nerve drugs pregabalin and gabapentin have risen dramatically in recent years and at the same time, concerns about abuse. Former prisoner and addict "Patrick" tells Dr Mark Porter that "gabbies" or "pregabs" are drugs of choice in jail and Dr Iain Brew, a GP who works in prisons, says misuse is a growing problem and there are examples of doctors being pressurised into prescribing them. Dr Cathy Stannard, consultant in pain medicine at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, chaired an expert group that drew up new prescribing guidelines for pregabalin and gabapentin and she tells Mark that more attention needs to be paid to emerging evidence of misuse. Many women say that if they've had one caesarean section, they feel pressurised to have another one and Sara describes how her medical team planted "a seed of doubt" about the potential risks to her baby which she says for her meant another C-Section was inevitable. But new guidelines from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists spell out that vaginal birth after a previous caesarean is a clinically safe choice, with a 75% success rate, the same as for first-time mothers. Inside Health's Dr Margaret McCartney discusses the history of changing attitudes to natural birth after caesarean and says why the new guidelines should give future mothers the confidence to discuss, well in advance of their birth, the best option for them. How do you fill in health check forms that ask for family history if you don't know who your family was? Inside Health listener Jessica is adopted and her heart health check suggested a very low risk of a stroke or heart attack when she couldn't answer the family history question. Mark and Margaret discuss how common this is, and what difference family knowledge would make to Jessica's risk (not much). Adrenaline auto injectors were first used in the 1960s when they were developed for soldiers to use during nerve gas attacks allowing them to self administer the antidote. But is a device designed to be used by fit, trained soldiers just as suitable for use in children and adults of widely varying size and weight? These concerns were raised by a coroner conducting the inquest into the death of a 19 year old student who died of anaphylactic shock caused by a nut allergy, despite her using her auto injector. The Medicine and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority and also the European Medicines Agency have been looking into issue and Dr Robert Boyle, allergy specialist at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington and Director of the Paediatric Research Unit at Imperial College, London provided expert advice. He talks to Mark about the limitations of auto injector design and urges everybody who might use the devices to ensure they are confident about exactly how to use them.

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