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Drugs that treat epilepsy, depression linked to suicide

From CNN Health:

Some antiseizure drugs used to treat epilepsy as well as depression, chronic pain, migraine, bipolar disorder, and other conditions are associated with a higher risk of suicide and violent death than other drugs in the same class, according to a new study.

Experts caution that patients should not stop taking the drugs -- gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), tiagabine (Gabitril), and valproate (Depakote) -- without their doctor's permission.

It's still not clear whether these risks are related to the drugs themselves or to underlying mood problems.

Suicidal thinking and acts are "very, very rare," says Carl Bazil, MD, a professor of clinical neurology and the director of the Columbia Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, in New York City.

"The vast majority of patients do not have anything like that." Dr. Bazil was not involved in the research.

The study, published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association, echoes a 2008 review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that found that taking anticonvulsants (as this class of drugs is known) roughly doubled the risk of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts, although the absolute risk remained small -- less than half of 1 percent.

Posted: 5/6/2010 3:49:00 PM

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