Bolder warnings labels could avoid suicides

The Food and Drug Administration announced Monday that it will be placing bolder suicide-related warnings on the labels of 10 widely used antidepressant medications — whether they are administered for depression or not. The U.S. government warned that doctors prescribing these medications should monitor patients closely for warning signs, particularly if they are first starting the drug or the dosage is changed. While it is still undetermined as to whether the drugs are directly linked to suicidal behavior, it is a good idea to make the warnings prominent so consumers can become more aware of the possible side effects.

The British health authorities took similar action last year after studies suggested serotonin-affecting antidepressants sometimes increase the risk of suicide in adolescents, as reported by the Associated Press.

“We specifically decided not to tell people not to use these drugs,” Russell Katz, a director with the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, told WebMD Medical News. “We don’t think that is necessary at this point.”

What is necessary, however, is to monitor any changes in behavior in a patient on any of the following: Celexa, Effexor, Lexapro, Luvox, Paxil, Prozac — generically sold as Fluoxetine, Remeron, Serzone, Wellbutrin and Zoloft.

The new labels will include typical behavioral patterns that can accompany suicidal conduct. Aside from worsening depression, WebMD lists anxiety, panic attacks and hostility as possible symptoms. If any of these changes appear, treatment needs to be evaluated.

According to the AP, the FDA issued a warning last year regarding the use of antidepressants in pediatric cases of suicide, though proof is still needed to confirm that drugs are responsible.

The decision for the bolder labels come after the FDA met last month with loved ones of suicide victims. While it cannot be assumed that these persons took their lives due to medication, it is wise on the part of the FDA to implement such a rule that might help any potential losses in the future.