Parkinson’s drug faulted for gambling addiction in lawsuits

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A lawsuit filed in Canada accuses Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim of marketing a Parkinson's disease drug that turned patients into gambling addicts, according to a report posted on Bloomberg.com today.
The Canadian suit follows a similar complaint filed last year in California.
Both lawsuits are seeking class action status, according to the report.
Mirapex is marketed in the U.S. by the two companies and in Canada by a Boehringer unit.
Darcy Merkur, a lawyer with Thomson, Rogers, the firm that filed the Canadian suit, told Bloomberg.com, "These people have no history of gambling. They don't have the propensity to gamble."
Pfizer spokesman Bryant Haskins told Bloomberg.com the company hadn't had the opportunity to review the Canadian lawsuit and was "not in a position to respond directly to it." Haskins added that Pfizer wasn't aware "of evidence establishing a casual relationship between Mirapex and compulsive behavior." Haskins also said that both drug makers have added statements to Mirapex labels to inform healthcare professionals that there have been "infrequent spontaneous post-marketing reports of compulsive behavior in patients who reportedly had received the medication." 
According to a study published in the Aug. 12, 2003 edition of the journal Neurology, researchers concluded that high doses of some Parkinson's medications, including Mirapex, might lead to a gambling addiction in some patients.
Researchers at Phoenix's Muhammad Ali Parkinson's Research Center examined data of almost 2000 Parkinson's patients over the course of a year. Nine of the patients were diagnosed as pathological gamblers and seven had started gambling within a month of an increase in the dosage on Mirapex or another Parkinson's drug they were taking.
Gerard Schick, a resident of Midland, Ontario, a city near a government-approved Indian casino lost about $80,000 playing slot machines while taking the drug Mirapex, the lawsuit alleges.
Merkur is seeking approximately $40 million in punitive damages plus an unspecified amount to cover gambling losses incurred. He is also seeking $2.4 million per person for pain and suffering and expects more than 100 Canadians to be represented in the suit.
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