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FDA issuing epilepsy drugs warning

Lamictal medication

TEXT OF STORY

Scott Jagow: Today, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to recommend stronger warnings about epilepsy drugs. And the risk of suicide for people who take them. These drugs are big sellers -- $10 billion in sales last year. John Dimsdale has more from Washington.


John Dimsdale: After reviewing 200 studies, FDA found a measurable increase in suicides or suicidal thoughts in people taking 11 different anti-epileptic drugs, including best sellers Lamictal and Lyrica.

Kenneth Kaitin, director of the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, says these drugs are also prescribed for other medical problems from migraines to bipolar disorder.

Kenneth Kaitin:There's an increased need to alert physicians to the risks associated with the use of those drugs.

But at today's hearing, Jacqueline French, testifying on behalf of the American Epilepsy Society, will recommend against a more prominent warning.

Jacqueline French: If patients see a black box warning indicating these drugs increase the risk of suicidality, some of them may react to that by stopping their medication.

French says dropping the medicine is likely to cause even more depression and thoughts of suicide in many patients.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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