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Baclofen in gamma-hydroxybutyrate withdrawal: patterns of use and online availability

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Christopher N. Floyd, David M. Wood, Paul I. Dargan

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349–356
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Volume74
Early online date3 Dec 2017
DOIs
Accepted/In press26 Nov 2017
E-pub ahead of print3 Dec 2017
Published2018

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Abstract

Purpose
Gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) withdrawal is a life-threatening condition that does not always respond to standard treatment with benzodiazepines. Baclofen has potential utility as a pharmacological adjunct and anecdotal reports suggest that it is being used by drug users to self-manage GHB withdrawal symptoms. Here, we investigate current patterns of use and the online availably of baclofen.

Methods
Data triangulation techniques were applied to published scientific literature and publicly accessible Internet resources (grey literature) to assess the use of baclofen in GHB withdrawal. An Internet snapshot survey was performed to identify the availability of baclofen for online purchase and the compliance of retailers with the UK regulations. Data were collected according to pre-defined criteria.

Results
A total of 37 cases of baclofen use in GHB withdrawal were identified in the scientific literature, as well as 51 relevant discussion threads across eight Internet forums in the grey literature. Baclofen was available to purchase from 38 online pharmacies, of which only one conformed to the UK regulations.

Conclusions
There is limited published evidence on the use of baclofen in GHB withdrawal, but both scientific and grey literature suggests clinical utility. Online pharmacies are readily offering prescription-only-medication without prescription and due to inadequate regulation, pose a danger to the public.

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