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FDA Orders Suicide Warning for Epilepsy Drugs

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The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to order the makers of epilepsy drugs to include suicide warnings on their labels. In addition to the suicide warning, the FDA is also requiring the drugs’ manufacturers to submit f a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy for each medication , including a Medication Guide for patients.

The FDA said its actions were based on the agency’s review of 199 clinical trials of 11 antiepileptic drugs which showed that patients receiving antiepileptic drugs had almost twice the risk of suicidal behavior or thoughts (0.43 percent) compared to patients receiving a placebo (0.24 percent). This difference was about one additional case of suicidal thoughts or behaviors for every 500 patients treated with antiepileptic drugs instead of placebo, the agency said.

Four of the patients who were randomized to receive one of the antiepileptic drugs committed suicide, whereas none of the patients in the placebo group did. Results were insufficient for any conclusion to be drawn about the drugs’ effects on completed suicides. The FDA added that the biological reasons for the increase in the risk for suicidal thoughts and behavior observed in patients being treated with antiepileptic drugs are unknown.

The drugs subject to the new warning include those used to treat psychiatric disorders, migraine headaches and other conditions, as well as epilepsy, the FDA said. Any available generic versions of these drugs will also carry the new epilepsy drugs.

Epilepsy drugs that will bear the new suicide warning include:

Carbamazepine (marketed as Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR)
Clonazepam (marketed as Klonopin)
Clorazepate (marketed as Tranxene)
Divalproex sodium (marketed as Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene)
Ethosuximide (marketed as Zarontin)
Ethotoin (marketed as Peganone)
Felbamate (marketed as Felbatol)
Gabapentin (marketed as Neurontin)
Lamotrigine (marketed as Lamictal)
Lacosamide (marketed as Vimpat)
Levetiracetam (marketed as Keppra)
Mephenytoin (marketed as Mesantoin)
Methosuximide (marketed as Celontin)
Oxcarbazepine (marketed as Trileptal) Phenytoin (marketed as Dilantin Suspension)
Pregabalin (marketed as Lyrica)
Primidone (marketed as Mysoline)
Tiagabine (marketed as Gabitril)
Topiramate (marketed as Topamax)
Trimethadione (marketed as Tridione)
Zonisamide (marketed as Zonegran)

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