Parkinson's drug Mirapex accused of causing gambling addiction

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.


  1. NOEL A. MADDOX NOEL A. MADDOX United States says:

    I had the jitters for years. Two years ago my doctor prescribed a drug for restless leg syndrome (one of the three syndromes of the jitters. I could not take it (requip) because it caused me to throw up.

    I continued to complain and ask him if there was any other drug which could alleviate RLS (or the other two syndromes 1. Nerve damage peripheral neuropathy and 2. Pre epilepsy jitters syndrome (not named yet))

    An uninvited neurologist showed up while i was in the hospital and said "this man has parkinson's so give him mirapex. The jitters went completely away for 8 months, wow, what an accidental gift. So i ask my doctor "did you know mirapex could do this and if so why did you let me suffer so long?" he claimed he knew nothing about it. The fda approved mirapex for RLS, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's years ago (2002 i think). My doctor is well read on this stuff and it is not likely he did not read this?

    The point is "the miracle was an accident, not the result of a caring physician.

    Mirapex has definitely affected me in two areas; gambling and shopping to the tune of somewhere around 20k and climbing in only a few months. This uninvited neurologist increased my dosage (doubled it) when i went to him about 4 months ago and complained of the jitters again.

    Do you perceive the slippery slope yet?

    Is there another fix for the jitters?

    Should i trust the medical profession to find it for me?

    I choose not to live with the jitters,could it be that any

    Dopamine increase adequate to relieve RLS will cause the

    Gambling and shopping compulsive behaviour? If so i choose to

    Live with the compulsive behaviour.

    Wow, talk about a rock and a hard place


    • Joyce Joyce United States says:

      I too have been taking this drug for RLS I am concerned as I see a increase in these behaviors that I never had - beer, wine, shopping and casino. I am going to wean myself off it and hopefully the cravings will stop!

  2. Ann Ann United States says:

    I am the caregiver for a gentleman with Parkinson's.  He gambles away most of the intake from his business every day!!!  Then he worries about paying his bills.

    He has since stopped taking mirapex.  His attitude on gambling has already improved.

    There are numerous drugs out there to treat PD.  Just go to a major neurology site or find a movement specialist.

    Good luck to you,

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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