Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), including SABRIL, increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in patients taking these drugs for any indication. Patients treated with any AED for any indication should be monitored for the emergence or worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and/or any unusual changes in mood or behavior.
Pooled analyses of 199 placebo-controlled clinical trials (mono- and adjunctive therapy) of 11 different AEDs showed that patients randomized to one of the AEDs had approximately twice the risk (adjusted Relative Risk 1.8, 95% CI: 1.2, 2.7) of suicidal thinking or behavior compared to patients randomized to placebo. In these trials, which had a median treatment duration of 12 weeks, the estimated incidence rate of suicidal behavior or ideation among 27,863 AED treated patients was 0.43%, compared to 0.24% among 16,029 placebo treated patients, representing an increase of approximately one case of suicidal thinking or behavior for every 530 patients treated. There were four suicides in drug treated patients in the trials and none in placebo treated patients, but the number is too small to allow any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.
The increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior with AEDs was observed as early as one week after starting drug treatment with AEDs and persisted for the duration of treatment assessed. Because most trials included in the analysis did not extend beyond 24 weeks, the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior beyond 24 weeks could not be assessed.
The risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior was generally consistent among drugs in the data analyzed. The finding of increased risk with AEDs of varying mechanisms of action and across a range of indications suggests that the risk applies to all AEDs used for any indication. The risk did not vary substantially by age (5-100 years) in the clinical trials analyzed. Table 4 shows absolute and relative risk by indication for all evaluated AEDs.
|Indication||Placebo Patients with Events per 1000 Patients||Drug Patients with Events per 1000 Patients|| |
Relative Risk: Incidence of Drug Events in Drug Patients/Incidence in Placebo Patients
Risk Difference: Additional Drug Patients with Events per 1000 Patients
The relative risk for suicidal thoughts or behavior was higher in clinical trials for epilepsy than in clinical trials for psychiatric or other conditions, but the absolute risk differences were similar for the epilepsy and psychiatric indications.
Anyone considering prescribing SABRIL or any other AED must balance the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior with the risk of untreated illness. Epilepsy and many other illnesses for which AEDs are prescribed are themselves associated with morbidity and mortality and an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Should suicidal thoughts and behavior emerge during treatment, the prescriber needs to consider whether the emergence of these symptoms in any given patient may be related to the illness being treated.
Patients, their caregivers, and families should be informed that AEDs increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and should be advised of the need to be alert for the emergence or worsening of the signs and symptoms of depression, any unusual changes in mood or behavior, or the emergence of suicidal thoughts, behavior, or thoughts about self-harm. Behaviors of concern should be reported immediately to healthcare providers.
As with all AEDs, SABRIL should be withdrawn gradually. However, if withdrawal is needed because of a serious adverse event, rapid discontinuation can be considered. Patients and caregivers should be told not to suddenly discontinue SABRIL therapy.
In controlled clinical studies in adults with complex partial seizures, SABRIL was tapered by decreasing the daily dose 1000 mg/day on a weekly basis until discontinued.
In a controlled study in pediatric patients with complex partial seizures, SABRIL was tapered by decreasing the daily dose by one third every week for three weeks.
In a controlled clinical study in patients with infantile spasms, SABRIL was tapered by decreasing the daily dose at a rate of 25-50 mg/kg every 3-4 days.
In North American controlled trials in adults, 6% of patients (16/280) receiving SABRIL and 2% of patients (3/188) receiving placebo had adverse events of anemia and/or met criteria for potentially clinically important hematology changes involving hemoglobin, hematocrit, and/or RBC indices. Across U.S. controlled trials, there were mean decreases in hemoglobin of about 3% and 0% in SABRIL and placebo treated patients, respectively, and a mean decrease in hematocrit of about 1% in SABRIL treated patients compared to a mean gain of about 1% in patients treated with placebo.
In controlled and open label epilepsy trials in adults and pediatric patients, 3 SABRIL patients (0.06%, 3/4855) discontinued for anemia and 2 SABRIL patients experienced unexplained declines in hemoglobin to below 8 g/dL and/or hematocrit below 24%.
SABRIL causes somnolence and fatigue. Patients should be advised not to drive a car or operate other complex machinery until they are familiar with the effects of SABRIL on their ability to perform such activities.
Pooled data from two SABRIL controlled trials in adults demonstrated that 24% (54/222) of SABRIL patients experienced somnolence compared to 10% (14/135) of placebo patients. In those same studies, 28% of SABRIL patients experienced fatigue compared to 15% (20/135) of placebo patients. Almost 1% of SABRIL patients discontinued from clinical trials for somnolence and almost 1% discontinued for fatigue.
Pooled data from three SABRIL controlled trials in pediatric patients demonstrated that 6% (10/165) of SABRIL patients experienced somnolence compared to 5% (5/104) of placebo patients. In those same studies, 10% (17/165) of SABRIL patients experienced fatigue compared to 7% (7/104) of placebo patients. No SABRIL patients discontinued from clinical trials due to somnolence or fatigue.
SABRIL causes symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in adults. Pediatric clinical trials were not designed to assess symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, but observed incidence of symptoms based on pooled data from controlled pediatric studies appeared similar for pediatric patients on vigabatrin and placebo. In a pool of North American controlled and uncontrolled epilepsy studies, 4.2% (19/457) of SABRIL patients developed signs and/or symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. In the subset of North American placebo-controlled epilepsy trials, 1.4% (4/280) of SABRIL treated patients and no (0/188) placebo patients developed signs and/or symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Initial manifestations of peripheral neuropathy in these trials included, in some combination, symptoms of numbness or tingling in the toes or feet, signs of reduced distal lower limb vibration or position sensation, or progressive loss of reflexes, starting at the ankles. Clinical studies in the development program were not designed to investigate peripheral neuropathy systematically and did not include nerve conduction studies, quantitative sensory testing, or skin or nerve biopsy. There is insufficient evidence to determine if development of these signs and symptoms was related to duration of SABRIL treatment, cumulative dose, or if the findings of peripheral neuropathy were completely reversible upon discontinuation of SABRIL.
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