Compulsive Sex, Gambling Tied to Parkinson's Drugs

Researchers say dopamine agonists should get black-box warnings
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2014 6:47 AM CDT
Compulsive Sex, Gambling Tied to Parkinson's Drugs
In this March 4, 2013, file photo, patrons fill the gaming floor at Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati.   (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

Parkinson's drugs are known for a range of side effects, including hallucinations, psychosis, and extreme drowsiness. But researchers say there's also a clear link between the use of some of these drugs and impulse control issues that result in hypersexuality, compulsive gambling, and uncontrollable spending, reports LiveScience. Looking at 1,580 reports of people in 22 countries, including the US, who'd experienced these abnormal behaviors after taking meds between 2003 and 2012, they identified 710 cases that involve dopamine receptor agonists, drugs often used to treat Parkinson's disease. (The other 870 cases accounted for all other types of drugs combined.)

"Physicians have overestimated the benefit and underestimated the risks associated with the use of dopamine receptor agonist drugs in patients with [Parkinson's] disease," the researchers write in JAMA Internal Medicine. One of the writers says three of his patients have lost their homes because they went bankrupt after taking the drugs, reports NPR. The link was strongest for pramipexole (brand name Mirapex) and ropinirole (Requip). Because people taking this type of drug were 277 times more likely to report these impulsive behaviors than those taking other drugs, the researchers are calling for black-box warnings—reserved for the most extreme cautions—detailing the risks involved. (One woman has even reported her Parkinson's meds give her three to five unwanted orgasms daily.)

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