Antiepileptic Drugs and Suicide Risk

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The FDA has issued an alert that individuals who take antiepileptics have an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. In a review of 199 placebo-controlled studies of 11 antiepileptic drugs, the agency found that individuals taking a placebo had a .22% risk for suicidality; where as those taking the antiepileptic had a .43% risk.

While the agency says it has not established a causal relationship between the medications and suicide risk, they do caution health care providers to closely monitor patients taking (or starting) any antiepileptic drug; and that patients, their families and caregivers should also be informed as a precautionary measure.

The agency’s analysis included the following drugs:

  • carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol)
  • felbamate (Felbatol)
  • gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • lamotrigine (Lamictal)
  • levetiracetam (Keppra)
  • oxcarbazepine (Trileptal)
  • pregabalin (Lyrica)
  • tiagabine (Gabitril)
  • topiramate (Topamax)
  • valproate (Depakote, Depakene, Depacon)
  • zonisamide (Zonegran)

Although only the drugs listed above were part of the analysis, the FDA expects that all medications in the antiepileptic class share the increased risk of suicidality. The FDA will be working with manufacturers to include this new information in the labeling for these products, and expects to apply these changes to the entire class of drugs.

Click here to read the full FDA alert

About Penny R Miller, MS, LPC, CBIS

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