New research suggests that approximately 18% of patients treated with therapeutic doses of dopamine agonists to treat Parkinson’s disease could suffer compulsive behavior side effects, such as gambling and hypersexuality.
Dopamine agonists are powerful drugs that are used to control tremors associated with Parkinson’s Disease. The class of drugs include medications such as Requip (ropinirole), Mirapex (pramipexole), Dostinex (cabergoline), Parlodel (bromocriptine), Apokyn (apomorphine), Neurpro (rotigotine) and Permax (pergolide).
Researchers evaluated data for 267 patients treated at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, including 38 patients who were taking therapeutic doses of dopamine agonists. Seven of these 38 users developed a compulsive syndrome, with two starting pathologic gambling, two becoming hypersexual and three developing both conditions.
The compulsive behaviors were not seen among those who were not treated with dopamine agonists, or 28 patients who were taking the drugs at doses that were not in the therapeutic range.
The Parkinson’s drug side effects tended to resolve when the drugs were stopped or doses of the medications were decreased. However, some of the patients required extended psychiatric treatment, lost substantial sums of money and suffered damage to their family and reputation by the hypersexual and compulsive gambling behaviors.
Several hundred dopamine agonist lawsuits are currently pending throughout the United States on behalf of users who have suffered damages caused by these compulsive behaviors.
Many of the cases have been consolidated in a Multidistrict Litigation, or MDL, in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, where the first trial last year involving a Mirapex lawsuit resulted in an $8.2 million jury award.