Friday, March 24, 2006

Parkinson's Drug Linked to Gambling

Parkinson's drug link to gambling
Sunday Mar 19 22:19 AEDT
Medical researchers are investigating suspicions drugs prescribed to treat Parkinson's disease could turn patients into compulsive gamblers, the Washington Post reports.
Scientists at the US Food and Drug Administration have found a strong association between pathological gambling and the drugs, which boost the level of dopamine in the brain, according to the newspaper.
Dopamine, a chemical naturally produced in the human body, plays a key role in the way the brain controls movements. A shortage of dopamine causes Parkinson's disease. But the chemical is also associated with addictive behaviours such as drug use and pleasurable experiences such as sex and food.
Researchers, according to the Washington Post, are looking into the possibility that drugs for treating Parkinson's are turning "some patients into obsessive pleasure seekers".
But the article also said no firm links have been made between dopamine enhancers and compulsive gambling.
Some patients have filed lawsuits against drug manufacturers, citing lost jobs and gambling problems.
Pharmaceutical firms such as Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim have toughened warning labels on drugs as the company investigates reports, according to the newspaper.
But Eli Lilly and Co, noting the lack of scientific consensus, raised the possibility that gambling problems in Parkinson's patients could be related to more legalised gambling, the newspaper reported.