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Impulse Control Disorder Risk Increased by Parkinson’s Medicine

Brigitte Barrera2 years ago

A new study reported on by Reuters shows a strong link between those taking Parkinson’s medication and impulse control disorders.

About the Impulse Control Study

The study was conducted at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices in Alexandria, Virginia by Thomas J. Moore and his team.

All kinds of drugs were analyzed during the study to find which types caused the most impulsive control disorder side effects. Impulsive control disorders include behaviors such as obsessive gambling and shopping as well as hypersexuality.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Adverse Effect Reporting System (FAERS) was used to analyze around 2.7 million serious drug side effects recorded from 2003 to 2012 in the U.S. and 21 other countries.

Study Results & Details

According to the study, dopamine agonist drugs are 277 times more likely to cause impulse control symptoms than any other drugs.

1,580 impulse control disorder events were identified. 710 of these were associated with dopamine agonist drugs while 870 were due to other drugs.

Dopamine is a chemical which helps to regulate behavior, and, according to Joshua J. Gagne, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, medications can impact the way the brain uses dopamine therefore creating a lower threshold for impulsive behaviors.

Dopamine agonist drugs work by telling the brain that dopamine is present even when it is not. Drugs that fall under this category are pramipexole (Mirapex), ropinirole, cabergoline, bromocriptine (Cycloset), rotigotine, and apomorphine (Apokyn). These dopamine agonists are typically prescribed for Parkinson’s disease and sometimes for restless leg syndrome.

This link, however, has been recognized for over 10 years. And in many cases, once patients stop taking the drugs the impulsive behaviors also stops. A study posted on the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s website states that 14% of patients taking dopamine agonist medications have compulsive behavior.

Other types of drugs such as antidepressants or antipsychotics have some link to impulsive behaviors, but prescription drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease have a much stronger link.


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