Lamictal, Lyrica and other epilepsy drugs may get black box suicide warning

Harvey Kirk

By Harvey Kirk
Posted July 8, 2008


Yesterday, FDA officials proposed that epilepsy drugs receive a new “black box” warning about an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. Side effects of Lamictal, Lyrica, Topamax, Depakote and other similar anti-seizure drugs in the same class have been associated with an increased risk of suicide.

>>PRIOR POST (2/2/2008): FDA Indicates Epilepsy Drug Side Effects Associated with Suicide

Approximately 2.7 million people in the United States have epilepsy, which is a chronic neurological disorder. The FDA proposes that the new warnings be applied to 11 different drugs used to prevent seizures associated with the condition, including:

  • Neurontin (gabapentin)
  • Lamictal (lamotrigine)
  • Lyrica (pregabalin)
  • Trileptal (oxcarbazepine)
  • Topamax (topiramate)
  • Keppra (levetiracetam)
  • Gabitril (tiagabine)
  • Zonegran (zonisamide)
  • Felbatol (felbamate)
  • Depakote, Depakene, Depacon (valproate)
  • Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol (carbamazepine)

In addition to seizures, the medications are also used to treat other conditions, such as migraines, nerve-pain disorders, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric diseases. The drugs generated sales of over $10 billion in the United States last year, making them the fifth best-selling class of drugs.

In January, the FDA issued an alert to healthcare providers about the increased suicide risk associated with epilepsy drug side effects. A review of about 200 different clinical studies involving nearly 44,000 individuals taking one of the epilepsy drugs or a placebo, found that users were twice as likely to experience suicidal behavior. The suicide problems include reports of self-inflicted death, suicide attempts, acts to prepare for suicide and documented thoughts of committing suicide.

An FDA Advisory Panel will meet Thursday to consider the proposal from FDA scientists and make a recommendation about whether the risk justifies a “black box” warning, which is the strongest warning that can be placed on a prescription medication. The FDA usually follows the recommendations of the panels of outside experts they convene, but they are not required to.

In addition to the epilepsy drugs, the FDA has identified several medications over the past nine months which could increase the risk of suicide, including the popular “quit-smoking” drug Chantix, and the asthma drug Singulair. In January, the drug regulator agency instituted a new policy which requires drug makers to examine whether patients become suicidal during clinical studies due to concerns about the risk.


The lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are currently investigating potential Chantix lawsuits for suicides caused by the medication. The potential for legal claims are also being reviewed for the Epilepsy drug suicide side effects. If you, a friend or family member have suffered severe injury or death as a result of a suicide while taking Lamictal, Lyrica, Topamax, Depakote or one of the other antiseizure drugs in the same class, request a free consultation.

UPDATE: At the July 10, 2008 hearing, the FDA advisory panel did find that the epilepsy drugs carry an increased suicide risk, but did not believe a “black box” warning is necessary. The FDA will consider the recommendations of their advisory panel before taking any regulatory action.

7 Comments • Add Your Comments

  • Lee-Anne says:

    I feel that the arguemant that just because your meds control your seizures does not mean you are not disabled is very valid. This should really be explored more. I have not had an actual episode in 5 months but my day to day activities as well as transportation to and from work as well as my job performance are a constant drain to my mental reserve. If you work you really have no other reserve to have a normal life because it takes all you have just to remain functional for an 8 hour work day

    Posted on October 14, 2008 at 3:57 am

  • David says:

    I was prescribed Lyrica (Pregabalin) 75mg for peripheral neuropathy in my feet (hot tingling sensations) that was keeping me awake at night. It only required 3x75mg capsules over three nights to make me so depressed that was driving the car with ideas of ending it all by driving into a tree. Then I realised that with all the airbags I probably wouldn’t die so got home and sat in the driveway with the engine running thinking about a hose from the exhaust pipe – fortunately I didn’t have one. At 2am in the morning I got up and googled Lyrica and read all the blurb that came with and found the warning about depression, self harm and thoughts of suicide. I haven’t taken any since and my wife says I am a different person to the one that was on Lyrica for only 3 days!

    Posted on January 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm

  • Jo says:

    on june 7th, 2012 my husband of 20 years who had been on nerotin for 2 years and then was prescribed lyrica an has been it for about a year, commit suicide!!!! He was a father,brother, grandfather, an became a great granpa .the happiest person to b alive I ever new. Put a 9mm pistol n his mouth!! Please get off it !!!

    Posted on August 13, 2012 at 1:15 am

  • bridgette says:

    on Nov 17th my fiancee’ john jacob spaulding died he was taking carbatrol and lomictal he was first on carbatrol and topamax this worked OK as soon as he started lomictal seizures got worse unpredictable and mood changes he started getting confused about if he took his medication or not and was not told by his doctors to stop taking it i just know lomictal contributed to his death…

    Posted on December 17, 2014 at 11:37 pm

  • mick says:

    didnt like it got off it went through **** but glad i did

    Posted on November 21, 2015 at 6:52 pm

  • Sally says:

    My husband took lamictal for 13 days he ended up with a severe headache ,very sore throat, unable to make simple decisions, his eyes looked so dark and he hung himself! I had 2 lawyers look at my case and they said I had a good case but it was a hard to prove because of the headache! My life had been changed dramatically! I miss him! Everyone including his family physician say it was so out of his character to do this! Our kids and grandchildren are missing out on a great man!

    Posted on July 31, 2017 at 6:33 pm

Add Your Comments

  • Have Your Comments Reviewed by a Lawyer

    Provide contact information below and additional private comments if you want an attorney to contact you to review a potential case.

    The information below will not be published to this page.

  • NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.