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Parkinson's Drug Requip Blamed For Gambling Addiction / Gay Sex

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In what may become fodder for the tort reform crowd, a French citizen has sued drug maker GlaxoSmithKline, blaming Glaxo’s Parkinson’s drug Requip for erratic behavior including persistent gambling and gay sex. As it turns out, the science appears to back up the claim.

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According to the Time report, Didier Jambart, a married father of two began taking Requip (ropinirole) in 2003 to treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and soon after began exhibiting strange and uncharacteristic behavior.

The alleged risky behavior included losing the family’s savings and stealing in order to feed an Internet gambling addiction and compulsive gay sex. The uncharacteristic behavior ended when Jambart stopped taking Requip in 2005. However, by then, Jambart had been demoted from his job and suffered psychological trauma from his addictions.

Time’s report suggests that Requip could not have made Jambart homosexual, but that compulsive behaviors were a known side-effect of the drug.

From the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists via Time:

… you should know that some people who took medications such as ropinirole [Requip] developed gambling problems or other intense urges or behaviors that were compulsive or unusual for them, such as increased sexual urges or behaviors. There is not enough information to tell whether the people developed these problems because they took the medication or for other reasons. Call your doctor if you have an urge to gamble that is difficult to control, you have intense urges, or you are unable to control your behavior.

This warning did not appear on any drug inserts until 2006 — after Jambart had discontinued Requip.

From ABC News:

"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."

Another neurologist, Dr. Mark Stacy, added that these side effects can be "devastating."

According to ABC, Jambart’s is not the first suit alleging these symptoms. In 2008, a patient was awarded $8.2 million for gambling losses and punitive damages against Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim, makers of the drug Mirapex. In 2010, at least 100 Australian patients sued Pfizer and Aspen Pharmacare claiming that the drugs Cabaser and Permax caused sex and gambling addictions.

Time noted that Requip is not the only drug linked to odd behavioral side-effects. The sleep drug, Ambien, has been linked to behavioral problems such as sleep-eating, sleepwalking, hallucinations, violent outbursts and even sleep driving.

(c) Copyright 2011 Brett A. Emison