Monday, 1 September 2008
A sign of things to come. The FDA in the USA is now considering the case of various drugs prescribed for “physical illness” in causing an increase in suicides. The two drugs reported to be in the spotlight are Singulair (Montelukast sodium) an asthma medication and Neurontin Gabapentin). The report describes two people who committed suicide whilst on these drugs – and that really is the difficulty. Providing any evidence for a connection between the prescription of these drugs and suicide is going to be hard to do as suicide is such a relatively rare outcome – even in people taking antidepressants it is a rare outcome and hard to prove a connection. One solution proposed is to set up a monitoring system for all new drugs to look at suicidal thoughts – however thinking about suicide is a wobbly old construct which is quite complex and doesn’t usually lead to any actions. It certainly is not the same as thinking about death (something it is often confused with in teenagers). However at least this shows that yet again thinking about physical and mental problems as separate is not a particularly helpful thing to do.