Medicine used to treat Parkinson’s disease has an unusual side effect: compulsive gambling, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The agency said an analysis of adverse drug effects found that the strongest association with gambling was for Mirapex (pramipexole), which accounted for 39, or 58%, of reports of pathological gambling. Five other Parkinson’s drugs also showed elevated risks.
The results were drawn from an FDA database of more than 2.5 million adverse drug reports dating back to 1968.
The latest results are consistent with earlier observations and add to evidence that Parkinson’s drugs may lead to impulsive behavior as they make up for depleted dopamine, a brain chemical whose deficiency marks the disease.
The findings appear in the February issue of the Archives of Neurology.
An earlier article in the journal described 11 Parkinson’s patients who developed pathological gambling after being treated with drugs for Parkinson’s disease.
A spokesman for Boehringer Ingelheim, the German company that makes Mirapex, said the company is working with Parkinson’s disease experts “to investigate the relationship, if any” between Parkinson’s drug therapy and compulsive behavior.