- Researchers reviewed 2.7 million reports of drug reactions to dopamine agonists submitted to the FDA between 2003 and 2012, and found a link to certain compulsive behaviors.
- Dopamine agonists are commonly prescribed for Parkinson's disease. Less frequently, they are prescribed for restless leg syndrome and hyperprolactinemia.
- The researchers are recommending that the FDA add a black box warning to this class of drug, warning of potential side effects.
Dopamine agonism is an important mode of action for the treatment of Parkinson's disorder. But it can lead to unusual and uncontrolled behavior, which (in its most extreme forms) could lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling losses or an impromptu rendez-vous with a prostitute (yes, those are real recorded cases).
Many physicians suggest that the compulsive behavior associated with dopamine agonists is a relatively rare side effect, especially compared with more common side effects such as nausea, dizziness, and others; however, based on the latest research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the medical community is taking a closer look.
In fact, the researchers, who are from the Institute for Safe Medicine Practices, Harvard, and the University of Ottawa, found that almost half of the 1,580 adverse events involving impulse control disorders were associated with dopamine agonists. Given that reality, it's possible that a black box warning is warranted.