Many probably read the Time Magazine feature on the top ten legal drugs that are linked to violence. What many didn’t get, thanks to the pro-pharma spin, is that not only are these drugs more prevalent and more commonly-associated with violent behavior than are their “evil,” illegal counterparts, but many of them are based on those same counterparts.
The Time story was based on a study published in PloS Oneand conducted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. The study’s data came from the Food and Drug Administration’s Adverse Event Reporting System. It found a total of 31 drugs that have been disproportionately linked to violence.
The following drugs were the Top 10 from the study’s list, with a high likelihood of being associated with violence. Note that I did not say “cause” since many of these are drugs used to “calm” and hopefully prevent violent outbursts. Obviously, these drugs might need a little work on that front.
#10 – Desvenlafaxine (trade name Pristiq) is an “antidepressant” that works as a seratonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). Many antidepressants fall into this category and many of them have been associated with violence, as you’ll see. Pristiq is made by Pfizer. People using it are 7.9 times more likely to be violent.
#9 – Venlaflaxine (Effexor) is the one that has constant commercials on cable TV now. Its generic name is similar to #10 because, surprise surprise, it is also a re-uptake inhibitor. Effexor is also made by Pfizer. Users of this drug are 8.3 times more likely to be associated with violence.
#8 – Fluvoxamine (Luvox) is another re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI or selective saratonin RI), but this one is most often prescribed for obsessive-compulsive disorder. It’s made by the Solvay Pharmaceuticals company and was one of the earliest SSRIs. Users of Luvox are 8.4 times more likely to be linked with violence. It is closely associated with Prozac, #2 on our list.
#7 – Triazolam (Halcion) is another Pfizer drug. This is a benzodiazepine-derived drug most often prescribed for insomnia. Like all benzodiazepine drugs, it’s a combination of benzene (a carcinogen and constituent of crude oil that was once used as a fuel additive) and diazepine (a “ring” made of two nitrogen atoms). Those who use this highly addictive drug are 8.7 times more likely to be associated with violence.
#6 – Atomoxetine (Strattera) is a drug prescribed for attention deficit and attention deficity hyperactivity disorder (ADD, ADHD) in children and adults. Strattera is a norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (NRI/NERI) which blocks two adrenaline types, causing a buildup that improves concentration. It’s made by Eli Lilly and users are 9 times more likely to be linked with violence.
#5 – Mefoquine (Lariam) is used to treat malaria. This was developed by the military at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and later marketed by F. Hoffmann-La Roche, though Roche Pharmaceuticals stopped marketing it in the U.S. in 2009. The common malarial strains are showing signs of resistance to this drug. Those who take it are 9.5 times as likely to be involved in violence.
#4 – Amphetamines are commonly associated with street use, but several are used in ADHD treatments (usually called CNS drugs). They affect both the dopamine and noradrenaline systems in the brain. Brand names include Adderall, Dexedrine, Benzedrine and others. These are 9.6 times as likely to be associated with violence.
#3 – Paroxetine (Paxil) is another SSRI commonly prescribed as an antidepressant. It is made by GlaxoSmithKline (formerly SmithKline Beecham). It has numerous side effects, so is not as often prescribed as it once was. Users are 10.3 times more likely to be linked with violence.
#2 – Fluoxetine (Prozac) is the wonder drug for antidepressants across middle-class America. This is another SSRI and it was brought to the fore for brief questioning when it was linked with the Columbine murders – note that the shooter was actually taking Luvox, #8 above. Prozac is made by Eli Lilly and those using it have a 10.9 times higher chance of being associated with violence.
#1 – Verenicline (Chantix) is a drug prescribed to help people stop smoking, of all things. It’s a “nicotine receptor partial agonist” and it carries the FDA’s strongest warning – the “black box” warning. The side effects it causes weren’t enough to keep Pfizer from getting it approved, though. Those using this drug are 18 times more likely to be linked with violence.
So there you have it. A no-holds-barred look at the worst violence-associated (legal) drugs in America today. Unlike Time, I didn’t soften the blow with a lot of hooey so my advertisers (namely Pfizer) wouldn’t jump ship on me.
If you’re taking any of the above-listed drugs, don’t just quit them. In many cases, that is the worst thing you can do. Instead, talk to a qualified healthcare provider about how you should go about weaning yourself free of your (legal) dope. Then find out if 1) your condition actually exists or is just some made up b.s. from a psychiatrist and 2) what natural or low-impact remedies might be available to help.