Rash in multicenter trials of lamotrigine in mood disorders: Clinical relevance and management

Joseph R. Calabrese, John R. Sullivan, Charles L. Bowden, Trisha Suppes, Joseph F. Goldberg, Gary S. Sachs, Melvin D. Shelton, Frederick K. Goodwin, Mark A. Frye, Vivek Kusumakar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Background: The rate of lamotrigine-associated rash in patients with mood disorders has not been well characterized. The objective of this report was to determine rash rates in clinical trials of lamotrigine in DSM-IV unipolar depression or bipolar disorder. Method: A retrospective analysis was conducted of rates of lamotrigine-related rash in 12 multicenter studies, including 1 open study, 7 randomized controlled acute trials, and 4 randomized controlled maintenance trials from 1996 to 2001. Results: A total of 1955 patients were treated with lamotrigine in open-label settings (open-label phases preceding or following randomization and 1 stand-alone open-label study); 1198 patients received lamotrigine in controlled settings, and 1056 patients received placebo. In controlled settings, rates of benign rash were 8.3% and 6.4% in lamotrigine- and placebo-treated patients, respectively. Rates of serious rash were 0% with lamotrigine, 0.1% (N = 1) with placebo, and 0% with comparators. In the open-label setting, the overall rate of rash for lamotrigine was 13.1% (N = 257) and of serious rash, 0.1% (N = 2). One mild case of Stevens-Johnson syndrome not requiring hospitalization occurred in a patient treated with lamotrigine. There were no cases of toxic epidermal necrolysis in any setting. Conclusion: Serious drug eruptions associated with lamotrigine were rare. Although rash is a potentially life-threatening reaction, the risk of serious rash due to lamotrigine should be weighed against more common risks associated with untreated or undertreated bipolar depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1012-1019
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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