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Epilepsy Drugs Don't Raise Suicide Risk, Study Shows
Date:8/5/2010

lysis was that many of the people studied had more severe cases of the condition, and these patients are known to have a higher risk of suicide to begin with. Another benefit of Arana's study is that patients were followed for an average of six years, rather than the 24 weeks' follow-up in the FDA analysis.

These new findings come on the heels of two other epidemiological studies that are also at odds with the FDA's findings. Those studies, one by Harvard researchers and the other by scientists in Germany, suggested that some antiepileptic medications raise the risk of suicide, while others do not.

Arana and his colleagues studied a total of 5,130,795 patients who were seen in a general practitioner's office for at least six months between July 1988 and March 2008. First, they identified how many patients were diagnosed with epilepsy, depression or bipolar disorder (since antiepileptic medications are often given to patients with one or more of these conditions). Then they looked at how many people had received an antiepileptic medication that was included in the FDA's agency review and was also available in the U.K.

The medications studied were carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR), gabapentin (Neurontin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), levetiracetam (Keppra), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), pregabalin (Lyrica), tiagabine (Gabitril), topiramate (Topamax), valproate (Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene) and zonisamide (Zonegran). Participants were followed for an average of six years. During the study period, 8,212 people attempted suicide, and 464 of these patients died as a result of their injuries.

Two subgroups of patients taking these medications were found to have an increased risk of suicide: people diagnosed with depression, and those who were prescribed an antiepileptic drug for a condition other than epilepsy, depression or bipolar disorder. Patients in the latter group were roughly two and a half times more likely to attempt or
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