Some prescription drugs associated with reports of violence towards others

January 01, 0001

Some prescription drugs associated with reports of violence towards others

Violence towards others is a seldom-studied adverse drug event and an atypical one because the risk of injury extends to others. The aim of this study by researchers from the USA was to identify the primary suspects in adverse drug event reports describing thoughts or acts of violence towards others, and assess the strength of the association. From the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Adverse Event Reporting System (AERS) data, they extracted all serious adverse event reports for drugs with 200 or more cases received from 2004 through September 2009. They identified any case report indicating homicide, homicidal ideation, physical assault, physical abuse or violence related symptoms.

They identified 1,527 cases of violence disproportionally reported for 31 drugs. Primary suspect drugs included varenicline (an aid to smoking cessation), 11 antidepressants, 6 sedative/hypnotics and 3 drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The evidence of an association was weaker and mixed for antipsychotic drugs and absent for all but 1 anticonvulsant/mood stabilizer. Two or fewer violence cases were reported for 435/484 (84.7%) of all evaluable drugs suggesting that an association with this adverse event is unlikely for these drugs.

The researchers concluded: "Acts of violence towards others are a genuine and serious adverse drug event associated with a relatively small group of drugs. Varenicline, which increases the availability of dopamine, and antidepressants with serotonergic effects were the most strongly and consistently implicated drugs. Prospective studies to evaluate systematically this side effect are needed to establish the incidence, confirm differences among drugs and identify additional common features."

It will also be important to distinguish the drug use from the context in which they are used eg smoking cessation, depression.

For the full abstract, click here.

PLoS ONE 5(12): e15337, 15 December 2010
© 2010 Moore et al
Prescription Drugs Associated with Reports of Violence Towards Others. Thomas J. Moore, Joseph Glenmullen and Curt D. Furberg. Correspondence to Thomas Moore: [email protected]

Category: P. Psychological. Keywords: prescription drugs, violence, adverse events reports, journal watch.
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 28 January 2011

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