Commonly used anticonvulsant drugs may increase the risk of suicide, scientists have claimed.
Researchers at Harvard Medical School in Boston linked Pfizer’s Neurontin, GlaxoSmithKline’s Lamictal, Novartis’s Trileptal and Cephalon’s Gabitril to an increased likelihood of suicidal acts in new users.
The investigation analysed prescription data for around 300,000 patients who had been given one of the treatments for the first time.
“We found increased risk for suicidal acts beginning within the first 14 days after treatment initiation, opening the possibility that anticonvulsant medications could induce behavioural effects prior to the achievement of their full therapeutic effectiveness,” study leader Dr Elisabetta Patorno said.
The report identified 827 suicidal acts, including 801 attempted suicides and 26 completed suicides. They also found an additional 41 violent deaths.
The treatments already carry a warning of the increased risk in the US.
Anticonvulsant drugs are mainly used to treat epilepsy, but an aggressive marketing campaign has also seen them promoted for bipolar disorder, pain and migraines.
Copyright Press Association 2010
Harvard Medical School