Man Says Parkinson's Drug Made Him Addicted to Gambling and Gay Sex
Requip, a dopamine agonist, can trigger compulsive behaviors in some patients.
Feb. 2, 2011— -- Didier Jambart, 51, of Nantes, France, is suing the British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, claiming the drug he took to treat his Parkinson's symptoms, Requip, turned him into a gambling and gay sex addict.
The married father of two said he blew through his family's savings and even took to stealing to finance his online gambling habit, the French Press Agency reported. He also became addicted to gay sex and risky sexual encounters that led to him being raped, his lawyers said.
Parkinson's disease destroys neurons deep within the brain that release the "feel-good" neurotransmitter dopamine. Requip belongs to a class of drugs called dopamine agonists that relieve motor symptoms, such as shaking, stiffness, slowness and trouble balancing, by activating dopamine receptors. But the drugs have side effects that, while rare, are serious.
"There are plenty of reports of people developing side effects from Parkinson's drugs, such as hypersexuality, gambling and excessive shopping," said Dr. David Standaert, professor and interim chairman of neurology and director of the Center for Neurodegeneration and Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "It's uncommon, but very dramatic when it happens."
Up to 17 percent of people with Parkinson's disease who take dopamine agonists exhibit an impulse control disorder, according to a 2010 study published in the Archives of Neurology.
"It can be devastating for those people," said Dr. Mark Stacy, a neurologist at Duke University Medical Center, who first linked the drugs to gambling in 2000. "And I think that because of the embarassing nature of the complaint, it's a bit amplified."
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