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Dopamine Agonist Drugs Strongly Linked to Impulse Control Disorders

Brian Finehout-Henry2 years ago

A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on October 20, 2014 has found a strong association between dopamine agonist drugs and the development of impulse control disorders.

About the Dopamine Agonists Study

According to WebMD, dopamine agonists are prescribed in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, restless legs syndrome, and hyperprolactinemia and function like dopamine by binding to and turning on the dopamine receptors.

The study looked at adverse event reports to the FDA for impulse control disorders and found that six dopamine agonist drugs were responsible for roughly 45% of the complaints, according to the New England Journal of Medicine Journal Watch.

The six dopamine agonists are pramipexole (brand name Mirapex), ropinirole (Requip), cabergoline (Dostinex), bromocriptine (Parlodel), rotingotine (Neupro), and apomorphine (APOKYN). The authors found that all six dopamine agonists showed increased risk of developing a severe impulse control disorder, such as pathological gambling, hypersexuality, and compulsive shopping.

Dopamine Agonists Are 277 Times More Likely to Cause Impulse Control Disorders

Reuters reports that the authors found dopamine agonists were 277 times more likely to be associated with impulse control disorders compared to other medications. Journal Watch reports that pramipexole had the highest risk of developing impulse control disorders, at 456 times more likely compared to other medications.

A commentary accompanying the article reports that due to the strong association, a causal connection is likely, according to HealioMedscape reports that other researches have found a link between dopamine agonists and impulse control disorders and that the link is strongest with the dopamine drugs targeting the D3 dopamine receptor.

Previous studies have found that there is an association between dopamine agonists, especially pramipexole, and pathological gambling, that these drugs are associated with numerous behaviors that can serious psychosocial consequences, and that the impulse control behaviors seem to stem from activation of the D3 dopamine receptor.

Authors of the Study Want Black Box Warnings

The authors want the FDA to add Black Box warnings, the most serious warning from the FDA, to the dopamine agonist due to the strong association and serious consequences of the adverse events, according to NPR.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the rate of these impulse control disorders could be as high as 18% among dopamine agonist users. Monthly Prescribing Reference reports the study author, Dr. Thomas Moore, has expressed that this is a major drug safety issue.


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