Drug Alert: Patients Using Certain Anticonvulsant Drugs may be at Risk of Suicide

May 10, 2010
By Dan Irving , Esq. on May 10, 2010 11:16 AM | | Comments (0)

Users of some well-known anticonvulsant drugs may be at risk of committing or attempting suicide, according to researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association last month.

The study researched records of over 297,000 patients who took anticonvulsants between 2001 and 2006 and were 15 years of age or older. The analysis revealed 801 attempted suicides, 26 suicides and 41 violent deaths in the first 60 days of patients taking anticonvulsant drugs. This research comes after a 2008 FDA drug warning on anticonvulsants in which the FDA made it mandatory for anticonvulsant drug manufacturers to have a warning about suicidal risks on product labels. The FDA took action after nearly 200 studies were conducted on 11 different medications. The studies revealed that patients who took anticonvulsants doubled their risk of suicide.

Neurontin, manufactured by Pfizer and Novartis's Trileptal were among the drugs researchers found to increase suicide risk by as much as double in people taking these drugs for the first time.

GlaxoSmithKline's Lamictal, and Gabitril, made by Cephalon were also found to increase suicide risk. It is uncertain as to why some anticonvulsant drugs raise the risk of suicide, but it is known that these drugs cause behavior and mood changes.

Anticonvulsant drugs are commonly used by patients with epilepsy; however, drugs such as Lamictal have also been marketed to treat conditions including bipolar disorder and migraine headaches.

The FDA allows doctors to prescribe any medicine they consider suitable for any condition, which means doctors may prescribe drugs off-label (meaning prescribing it for uses unapproved by the FDA) if they think it's necessary. Drug manufacturers, on the other hand, are only allowed to market the drugs for uses that are FDA-approved. However, drug manufacturers don't always follow FDA guidelines for marketing drugs. Earlier this year, in January, Novartis paid a 185 million dollar fine for off-label marketing of the epilepsy drug Trileptal.

A Florida personal injury attorney can be contacted if a dangerous drug has caused someone in your family injury or death.

Dan Irving is a Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer handling injury and accident cases for more than 29 years. He has received a 10.0 rating on AVVO, a lawyer rating service, which is the highest rating given for a lawyer. He is also rated the highest ability and ethics rating, "AV", by Martindale Hubbell, a company rating lawyers for more than 100 years.

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