Study Finds Parkinson’s Disease Medication Triggers Destructive Behavior
A new study conducted at Mayo Clinic reports that one in six patients receiving therapeutic doses of certain drugs for Parkinson's disease develops new-onset, potentially destructive behaviors, notably compulsive gambling or hypersexuality. The study extends findings from two Mayo case series published in 2005 that reported a connection between dopamine agonist medications and compulsive gambling or hypersexuality. Dopamine agonists are a class of drugs that include pramipexole and ropinirole. They are commonly used to treat Parkinson's disease, but low doses also are used for restless legs syndrome. They uniquely stimulate brain limbic circuits, which are thought to be fundamental substrates for emotional, reward and hedonistic behaviors. The 2005 case series alerted us that something bad was happening to some unfortunate people. This study was done to assess the likelihood that this effect would happen to the average Parkinsons patient treated with these agents, says J. Michael Bostwick, M.D., Mayo Clinic psychiatrist who spearheaded the new study. It is published in the April issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.