Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Panel looks at relationship between medication, suicide risk

This summer, the FDA convened a panel of scientific advisers to evaluate the suicide risks of 11 antiseizure drugs, including Neurontin. Crunching data from 210 clinical trials, the agency found a small increased risk: Two of 1,000 patients taking the medications experienced suicidal thoughts or behavior. When millions of people are taking a drug, even such slim odds can have consequences.

The advisory panel accepted the FDA's findings, but voted against imposing the government's strongest warning on the drugs, saying that could do more harm than good. The FDA is considering how to communicate the risks to patients.

"Even though a drug is identified as a drug for weight control, or smoking cessation, or asthma, these drugs often also get into the brain, so there is always the potential for having psychiatric side effects," said Dr. Thomas Laughren, head of the FDA's division of psychiatric products. "But we don't have any unifying hypothesis as to why very different classes of drugs have psychiatric side effects."

The FDA has tools to assess the suicide risks of medications. Researchers at Columbia University have developed a system for collecting and analyzing data about suicidal thoughts and actions among people who enroll in drug trials. The FDA helped pay for the research, but the agency does not require drugmakers to use the system, a puzzling oversight to independent experts.

"I can't see any reason why it should not be widely and regularly used during drug development," said Larry Sasich, a professor of pharmacy practice at the Lake Erie School of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, Pa.

But the FDA's Laughren said that while many drugs can affect the brain, "there is no compelling reason to think that more than a few are associated with suicidality."

"Whether or not any of these drugs cause suicidal thoughts and behavior is the critical question we need to answer; up to now, we have not answered that," said Kelly Posner, a Columbia researcher who led the effort to develop the screening system. "Debunking false notions of risk is just as important to the public health as knowing about risks that exist."

>>fast facts

Drugs with suicide concerns

Here's a list of some prescription medications for which concerns have been raised involving suicidal thoughts and actions:

All antidepressants. Drugs such as Prozac, Paxil, Wellbutrin and Zoloft carry required warnings that the medications can increase suicidal thinking and behavior in some children, adolescents and young adults.

Anticonvulsives. Drugs such as Depakote, Lyrica and Neurontin are used to treat seizures as well as mental health conditions. A recent FDA analysis found a small increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior. An advisory panel recommended against applying the

agency's strongest warning to the drugs.

Chantix. The FDA is investigating whether the smoking cessation drug triggers psychiatric symptoms.

Singulair. The FDA is investigating whether the drug for asthma and allergies can prompt suicidal thoughts.

Accutane. The acne drug carries a warning that it may cause suicidal thoughts and behavior in rare cases.

Associated Press

Panel looks at relationship between medication, suicide risk 11/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 4, 2010 9:28am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]