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Pfizer has reportedly agreed to settle a class action lawsuit by Australian citizens over the side effects of drugs linked to impulsive behavior, such as uncontrollable gambling and sex addiction. A number of similar drugs are under scrutiny in the United States for similar side effects, including the popular atypical antipsychotic Abilify.
According to a story by Financial Review, Pfizer and more than 170 patients who suffered from addictive behaviors are awaiting court approval for a settlement, which is believed to be in the millions.
The settlement has been delayed by the court because some complained about the assessment of plaintiffs’ claims. However, the presiding judge said there was no sign that the settlement was not fair and the complaints are expected to be resolved.
The drugs at issue, Casaber and Dostinex, belong to a class of medications known as dopamine receptor agonists, which are used to treat Parkinson’s disease, restless leg syndrome, and hyperprolactinemia.
A recent study by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that this class of drugs was linked to impulse control problems, such as compulsive gambling, sex addiction and other issues that may have a severe impact on an individual’s life.
There are six FDA-approved dopamine agonists currently on the market in the United States. The Parkinson’s disease drugs Mirapex and Requip were most strongly linked to incidents of impulse control problems among the dopamine receptor agonists, leading to gambling addictions and hypersexuality, and even compulsive shopping. However, a safety signal was also seen for Abilify gambling and impulse control problems, with at least 37 reports found specifically involving this one medication.
Researchers have warned that drug manufacturers failed to provide adequate warnings about the risk of impulsive behavior on the drugs, indicating that information about the risk dates back to at least 2009, when a study found that approximately 18% of patients taking a dopamine agonist for treatment of Parkinsons disease could suffer from compulsive behavior side effects.
Although Abilify, an Otsuka Pharmaceuticals drug that is one of the top selling drugs in the U.S., is a partial dopamine receptor agonists, researchers found that the same signals for gambling and other impulse control problems with Abilify were seen among users of the antipsychotic medication, which has generated over $6.4 billion in annual sales.