Antidote: anti-convulsant drugs

The problem with media headlines on pharma is that they are rarely subtle or nuanced, instead they smear and cripple some of our best medications. The latest pronouncement involves some of our best anti-convulsant drugs, which have now raised alarms because they have significantly increased suicide risk.      

The review of close to 300,000 cases, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and it is likely to cause a reluctance to prescribe two of the popular drugs cited, neurontin and lamictal.   

Unfortunately, both of these drugs have important uses in medical practice that now may be put at risk. Neurontin is a very versatile treatment for everything from mood disorders, peripheral nerve problems and pain syndromes. It is mostly well tolerated except for drowsiness, and many patients find that it is the only drug that works for them. Lamictal is one of the most effective mood stabilizers and anti-seizure drugs available. Fear could cripple it, which would be tragic for those who benefit greatly from its use.    

Whenever one of these observational studies comes out, and the FDA tightens its belt and issues a warning or a restriction, I receive calls from all my patients on the drug wondering whether they should stop it. Rather than having the ability to make a determination on a patient by patient basis, I am pressured into an all or none situation. Patients have been led to believe by the media that either a drug will kill them or it will save them. The media is a powerful force for doctors to have to contend with.
         
Marc Siegel, MD, is an internist and professor of medicine at New York University and the author of False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.
close

Next Article in Features

Email Newsletters


What does going "beyond the pill" actually mean? At MM&M's recent inaugural spring conference, audience members heard from real-world companies that are managing the organizational, technological, and promotional challenges inherent in this transition, such as partnering with health neophytes, harnessing technologies that allow deeper engagement with patients, and adopting a new commercial mindset to serve, not sell. Download here.


A wave of more effective anti-cancer drugs has set the oncology world on fire with enthusiasm. While many hail this as a new era, an equally vocal faction questions the money spent for the value gained. This medical and commercial trend report for marketers of anti-cancer modalities touches on many of the latest shifts that have expedited product launches and otherwise impacted promotion and reimbursement of these drugs. Click here.