"Therefore, this increased rate of suicide may tell us patients with epilepsy may have higher rate of suicide, but it doesn't mean it's 'caused' by the anti-seizure drugs," Motamedi said.
"The better warning would be, in my opinion, to be sensitive to depression of other psychiatric symptoms in epilepsy patients and refer them to psychiatrists," he added.
In addition to clonazepam, phenytoin and topiramate, the drugs covered by the new FDA-mandated labeling are: carbamazepine (marketed as Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, Tegretol XR); clorazepate (Tranxene); divalproex sodium (Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene); ethosuximide (Zarontin); ethotoin (Peganone); felbamate (Felbatol); gabapentin (Neurontin); lamotrigine (Lamictal); lacosamide (Vimpat); levetiracetam (Keppra); mephenytoin (Mesantoin); methosuximide (Celontin); oxcarbazepine (Trileptal); pregabalin (Lyrica); primidone (Mysoline); tiagabine (Gabitril); trimethadione (Tridione), and zonisamide (Zonegran). Some of these drugs are also available as generics.
According to the FDA, antiepileptic drugs are used to treat epilepsy, bipolar disorder, migraine headaches and other conditions.
For more on epilepsy, visit the Epilepsy Foundation.
SOURCES: Dec. 16, 2008, news release, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Gholam Motamedi, M.D., associate professor of neurology and director, clinical neurophysiology fellowship and epilepsy, Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, D.C; July 10, 2008, teleconference with Russell Katz, M.D., director, division of neurology products, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, FDA, Rockville, Md.
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