Commenting on the study, Roger S. McIntyre, MD, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology, University of Toronto, and head of the mood disorders psychopharmacology unit, said that the data “add to a growing confluence of data from observational studies indicating that lithium especially is capable of reducing all-cause mortality, suicide mortality, and natural mortality.”
Dr. McIntyre, chairman and executive director of the Brain and Cognitive Discover Foundation, Toronto, who was not involved with the study, agreed with the authors that lamotrigine is “not a very popular drug in Taiwan, therefore we may not have sufficient assay sensitivity to document the effect.”
But lamotrigine “does have recurrence prevention effects in BD, especially bipolar depression, and it would be expected that it would reduce suicide potentially especially in such a large sample.”
The study’s take-home message “is that the extant evidence now indicates that lithium should be a first-line treatment in persons who live with BD who are experiencing suicidal ideation and/or behavior and these data should inform algorithms of treatment selection and sequencing in clinical practice guidelines,” said Dr. McIntyre.
This research was supported by grants from the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taiwan and Taipei City Hospital. The authors declared no relevant financial relationships. Dr. McIntyre has received research grant support from CIHR/GACD/National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Milken Institute; and speaker/consultation fees from Lundbeck, Janssen, Alkermes, Neumora Therapeutics, Boehringer Ingelheim, Sage, Biogen, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Purdue, Pfizer, Otsuka, Takeda, Neurocrine, Sunovion, Bausch Health, Axsome, Novo Nordisk, Kris, Sanofi, Eisai, Intra-Cellular, NewBridge Pharmaceuticals, Viatris, AbbVie, and Atai Life Sciences. Dr. McIntyre is a CEO of Braxia Scientific.
A version of this article first appeared on Medscape.com.