Neuropsychiatric reactions to drugs: an analysis of spontaneous reports from general practitioners in Italy

Pharmacol Res. 2005 Mar;51(3):211-6. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2004.08.003.


Limited information is available on drug-induced neuropsychiatric disorders in general practice. The spontaneous reports of both neurological and psychiatric adverse drug reactions (ADRs) collected during a 2-year period in PharmaSearch database, an Italian database recording reports of ADRs from general practitioners (GPs), were examined. Between January 2002 and December 2003, 171 general practitioners sent to PharmaSearch a total of 1131 reports corresponding to 1892 ADRs. Of overall reports, 310 (27.4%) involved the central nervous system resulting in 440 neuropsychiatric reactions (specifically, 241 neurological and 199 psychiatric). In our survey, 40 reports were excluded because they were incomplete or contradictory and thus classified as 'unlikely' or 'unclassifiable'. Therefore, the present analysis was carried out on 270 reports with 391 neuropsychiatric reactions (213 neurological and 178 psychiatric, respectively). Vertigo (16.4%), confusion (10.7%) and headache (10.0%) were the reactions more commonly reported. Drugs indicated for the treatment of nervous system disorders (ATC 1 code=N) accounted only for 38.4% of neuropsychiatric reactions, while most of these reactions were related to drugs indicated for other than nervous system diseases. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), fluoroquinolones, antidepressant drugs, opioids, and drugs for peptic ulcer were the categories most frequently suspected for neuropsychiatric reactions. Of 391 neuropsychiatric reactions, 78 (19.9%) were unlabeled and 41 (10.5%) were serious. In conclusion, the present study carried out in general practice underlines the importance of neuropsychiatric ADRs and reminds GPs to pay attention to this kind of toxicity when they prescribe pharmacological agents to their patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adverse Drug Reaction Reporting Systems*
  • Central Nervous System Agents / adverse effects
  • Databases, Factual*
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions*
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / chemically induced*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Physicians, Family*


  • Central Nervous System Agents