Can Viagra cause violence?
In a controversial research review, toxicologist Harold Milman and S.
B. Arnold recently raised the possibility that the drug Viagra, used to
treat erectile dysfunction, may contribute to violent behavior.
Milman and Arnold uncovered 274 reports of mental side effects
linked to Viagra (sildenafil), including amnesia, aggression, and
disorientation. In addition, they note that the drug has been suggested as
a contributing factor in 22 cases involving aggression, 13 involving rape,
and 6 involving murder.
Milman notes, "Published studies [report] that sildenafil crosses the
blood-brain barrier, that it exerts various biochemical and physiologic
effects in the brain, and that it affects information processing." He
acknowledges that his data on behavioral side effects is anecdotal, but
says, "It's clear that these men are behaving abnormally."
He concludes, "It is recommended that before prescribing sildenafil
for erectile dysfunction, clinicians should caution their patients and their
partners on the possibility of neurologic, emotional, or psychological
disturbances; amnesia or loss of consciousness; or aggressive behavior."
The study's conclusions are challenged by several scientists, including
Kevin McKenna who says studies of rodents suggest that Viagra would
be likely to reduce aggression rather than increasing it.
"Neurologic, psychological, and aggressive disturbances with
sildenafil," H. A. Milman and S. B. Arnold, Annals of Pharmacotherapy,
Vol. 36, No. 7-8, July-August 2002, 1129-34. Address: Harold Milman,
ToxNetwork.com, Rockville, MD 20853-2345.
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"Scientists debate possible Viagra-aggression link," Todd Zwillich,
Reuters, December 6, 2002.