Parkinson's Drugs Linked to Behavior Problems in Study

TUESDAY March 29, 2011 -- Parkinson's disease drugs called dopamine agonists appear to cause impulse control problems in almost one-quarter of patients, says a new study.

Previous research has linked dopamine agonists, which include Mirapex (pramipexole) and Requip (ropinirole), to impulse control disorders, such as gambling addiction and hypersexuality, and to compulsive behaviors, such as binge eating, overspending and excessive computer use.

In this study, Mayo Clinic researchers analyzed Parkinson's disease patient records over two years.

"What we found was that as many as 22 percent of patients during that two-year period had a new-onset impulse control disorder," lead investigator and neurology fellow Dr. Anhar Hassan said in a Mayo Clinic news release.

The higher the dose of dopamine agonist, the more likely a patient was to develop an impulse control disorder, the researchers found.

"One in four patients who were on a medium therapeutic dose of the medication had an impulse control disorder. For patients who were taking a higher range of the medication, about one in three developed an impulse control disorder," Hassan said.

The study was recently published online in the journal Parkinsonism and Related Disorders.

Patients taking dopamine agonists and their families need to watch for any behavior changes, Hassan said. Reducing the dose or going off the medication usually resolves behavior problems within a few days to a month.

More information

We Move has more about drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease.

Posted: March 2011


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