New Study Shows Five Popular Epilepsy / Depression Drugs Associated With Higher Risk Of Suicide

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 19, 2018

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A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports that five drugs commonly used to treat epilepsy, depression, chronic pain, migraine, bipolar disorder and other conditions are associated with a higher risk of violent death and suicide.

Drugs increase risk of suicide

According to a CNN Health article, a new study by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston Massachusetts, shows that these five drugs are associated with a higher risk of suicide and violent death:

  • Neurontin. Manufactured by Pfizer and known generically as gabapentin, Neurontin side effects also include hostility, back pain and others.
  • Lamictal. Manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline and known generically as lamotrigine, Lamictal side effects also include weight loss, seizures and anxiety.
  • Trileptal. Manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals and known generically as oxcarbazepine, Trileptal side effects also include impaired vision, hyponatremia and possibly Stevens Johnson Syndrome.
  • Gabitril. Manufactured by Cephalon and known generically as tiagabine, Gabitril side effects also include insomnia, urinary tract infection and seizures.
  • Depakote. Manufactured by Abbott Laboratories and known generically as valproate, Depakote side effects also include birth defects such as Spina Bifida, congenital cardiac defects, cleft palates, limb deformity, facial dysmorphism and others.

Researchers reviewed over two million prescriptions from health plans nationwide and compared them with data from hospitalizations, emergency room visits and federal death records. What they found was startling. Out of 297,600 new prescriptions, 801 patients attempted suicide, 26 committed suicide and 41 died a violent death.

The researchers’ conclusions mirror those of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which last year concluded that these drugs, known as anticonvulsants, roughly double the risk of suicidal attempts and thoughts (1 in 230 had these symptoms compared to 1 in 450 who were given a placebo). As a result, the FDA required the drugs to carry a stricter warning label to inform consumers of the increased risk of injury or death.

Anticonvulsant usage up

The number of doctors and healthcare professionals prescribing anticonvulsants to kids and adults is steadily increasing according to personal injury lawyers and product liability attorneys who say that these drugs are often prescribed for off-label uses that are not approved by the FDA.

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