In a review of about 200 placebo-controlled studies involving 11 common antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), patients taking the drugs experienced about twice the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior as people who took placebos. The research has prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue an alert to health care providers.
Overall, suicidal thoughts or behavior were rare, but four people in the groups taking AEDs committed suicide, compared with none in the placebo groups. And 0.43% of those receiving AEDs experienced suicidal thoughts or behavior, compared with 0.22% in the placebo groups. The risks occurred at 1 week after starting a drug and continued for at least 24 weeks.
An FDA spokesperson said the FDA would work with drug manufacturers to add a warning to drug labels. Although only 11 drugs were studied in the research, the FDA expects that all drugs classified as AEDs carry the same risk.