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Parkinson's disease medication triggers destructive behaviors
Date:4/8/2009

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- 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.

VIDEO ALERT: Additional audio and video resources including excerpts from an interview with Dr. J. Michael Bostwick describing the research, are available on the Mayo Clinic News Blog.

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 Parkinson's 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.

The researchers analyzed the medical records of patients with Parkinson's disease residing in counties surrounding Rochester, Minn., who received their primary neurological care at Mayo Clinic in Rochester between 2004 and 2006. This group included 267 patients. Of those, 66 were taking dopamine agonists for their Parkinson's disease. Of those 66, 38 were taking the drugs in therapeutic doses (doses expected to be at least minimally beneficial).

The findings were definitive. Seven patients experiencing new-onset compulsive gambling or hypersexuality were taking dopamine agonists in t
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Contact: John Murphy
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
Source:Eurekalert

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