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Antiepileptic drugs and suicidality

Authors Britton J, Shih JJ

Published 28 September 2010 Volume 2010:2 Pages 181—189

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/DHPS.S13225

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2


Jeffery W Britton1, Jerry J Shih2
1Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN, USA; 2Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL, USA

Abstract: The risk of suicide in patients with epilepsy is significantly higher than the general population. There are many hypotheses as to the reasons for this, but the potential role of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) in increasing suicidality has recently been brought into question. In 2008, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a warning after a meta-analysis of data from all clinical trials involving AEDs found a suicidality risk of 0.43 per 1000 patients in active drug arms of these clinical trials compared to a rate in the placebo arm of 0.22. While an increased risk for individual AEDs was found in two, the FDA decided to issue a warning for the entire AED class. While this decision and the meta-analysis findings have been considered controversial, and have created concern that this stated risk may dissuade use of AEDs by patients who would benefit from them, it has led to increased awareness of the risk of suicidality and psychiatric co-morbidity in this patient group. In this article, the association of epilepsy and AEDs with psychiatric disease and suicidality are reviewed, perspective as to the significance and limitations of the FDA’s findings are discussed, and some options for suicidality screening and their potential utility in clinical care are evaluated.

Keywords: antiepileptic drugs, suicidality, FDA, behavior

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