We identified 1527 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.
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.