A drug prescribed to millions of patients in the U.S. as a treatment for Parkinson's disease and other conditions, has allegedly turned some patients into gambling addicts.
In a lawsuit filed in Ontario Superior Court, Manufacturers of the drug Mirapex, Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals have been accused of distributing a drug that triggered off gambling addictions.
The Canadian lawsuit follows a similar complaint filed in September in federal court in the Central District of California.
Attorney Daniel Kodam who filed the California case, says about 2.5 percent of Mirapex users develop a gambling addiction.
Kodam says Mirapex mimics the action of dopamine in the brain, and lack of dopamine can lead to tremors and rigidity.
Darcy Merkur, a lawyer with Thomson, Rogers, who filed the Canadian action says that the complainants are people with no history of gambling and have no propensity to gamble.
Merkur says Mirapex users have come forward some claiming to have lost as much as C$750,000. One user, Gerard Schick, a resident of Midland, Ontario, north of Toronto and near a government-approved Indian casino, lost C$100,000 ($80,757) playing slot machines while taking Mirapex.
Merkur says he is seeking C$50 million in punitive damages, plus an unspecified amount to cover the actual gambling losses incurred. He's also seeking C$3 million per person for pain and suffering, emotional hardship, and loss of earnings and he expects more than 100 Canadians will be represented in the suit.
Kodam, speaking about the California case says he plans to meet with attorneys for the two companies, prior to a scheduled June 23 hearing to amend the complaint and convert it to a class action.
The Canadian case is Between Gerard Schick and Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., No. 05CV288851 CP, Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Toronto.
Both the Canadian and U.S. suits are seeking class action status. Spokespersons for New York-based Pfizer, the world's largest drugmaker, and Ingelheim, Germany-based Boehringer, the world's biggest family-owned drug company have not as yet made a response to the claims.