U.S. warns of suicidal actions with epilepsy drugs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. health officials alerted doctors on Thursday that medicines used to treat epilepsy and psychiatric disorders may raise the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior.

The Food and Drug Administration said it analyzed studies of 11 epilepsy drugs including Pfizer Inc’s Neurontin, Abbott Laboratories Inc’s Depakote and Johnson & Johnson’s Topamax. The studies included nearly 44,000 patients.

The analysis found patients treated with the drugs faced about twice the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior compared to others who got a placebo.

The FDA estimated there were two more cases per every 1,000 patients given the drugs instead of a placebo.

About 0.4 percent of patients given the drugs reported suicidal thoughts or actions, compared with 0.2 percent of placebo patients, the FDA said.

Four people who were taking one of the epilepsy drugs committed suicide, while none of the placebo patients did.

The agency said it expected the risk was shared by all anti-epileptic drugs and that changes to the drugs’ prescribing instructions would be applied broadly throughout the class.

Officials at Pfizer, J&J and Abbott could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reporting by Lisa Richwine, editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Dave Zimmerman;