March 19, 2006
Parkinson's Drug Tied to Compulsive Behavior
In an interesting warning & foreseeability question, some people who took dopamine agonists (marketed as Mirapex and Permax) are suing for damages relating to increased compulsive behavior:
When Wayne Kanuch received a diagnosis of Parkinson's disease in 1993, the last thing he imagined was that the drug prescribed to treat his illness would turn him into a compulsive gambler and put his libido into overdrive.
Kanuch's marriage ended in divorce, partly as a result of the sexual pressures he placed on his wife, and he began losing fortunes at the racetrack. He was fired from his job at Chevron for trolling for dates on the Internet while at work, and he quickly went bankrupt.
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Now, some patients are suing the manufacturers of these drugs to recover the money they lost gambling, on the grounds that the companies did not do enough to warn about these risks. Kanuch has not yet sued but plans to do so.
The evidence is apparently still a bit hazy, based primarily on (unreliable for most anything other than signals) adverse event reports. But the companies, due in part to an FDA analysis of those reports, have updated labels for some of the class:
Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which sells Permax, a dopamine agonist, said the matter is under litigation but it has told physicians: "As with other dopamine agonists, compulsive self-rewarding behavior (e.g., pathologic gambling) and libido increase have been reported in patients."
Boehringer Ingelheim, which makes Mirapex, another dopamine agonist, said it has toughened its warning label but said that company officials are still exploring the connection. Eli Lilly & Co, which used to sell Permax, said there is no scientific consensus on the issue and suggested that gambling problems may be linked to the increased accessibility of legalized gambling.
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