On August 4 GlaxoSmithKline was forced to update its package insert for Requip, a drug used to treat restless legs syndrome (RLS) or, “jitters in the legs,” which some claim isn’t a real disease. What is real, is that Requip also causes “pathological gambling,” and “increased libido including hypersexuality.” We know this because that’s what the new package insert says.
The GlaxoSmithKline package insert for Requip claims these unusual side-effects are a class effect, and says, “Impulse control symptoms, including compulsive behaviors such as pathological gambling and hypersexuality, have been reported in patients treated with dopaminergic agents.”
Not only Requip causes these unusual side effects, but also that a former Pfizer drug, Mirapex (which Pfizer is letting Boehringer-Ingelheim market), can make your personality change overnight.
According to the Mirapex package insert, “patients taking certain medicines to treat Parkinson’s disease or RLS, including Mirapex . . . have reported problems with gambling, compulsive eating, and increased sex drive.”
So, why didn’t anyone market this stuff?
Perhaps one reason for the drug companies’ hesitation is that, according to WorldLaw Direct, “at least 200 North Americans have contacted lawyers in California and elsewhere about joining class actions that allege Mirapex caused them among other things to gamble, shop, paint and eat compulsively.” And the lawyers are targeting Requip as well.
A report published on July 12, 2005 in the issue of Archives of Neurology details a study conducted by researchers at the Mayo Clinic on the effects of Mirapex. According to the report, researchers discovered that dozens of patients using Mirapex or a similar drug had developed a serious gambling addiction.
But there is a marketing opportunity in every challenge.
So here’s our question for Pfizer:
When will a Pfizer attempt to combine Viagra with Mirapex?
This isn’t as far fetched as you may think. Remember, stiff erections were initially a “bad” side-effect of Viagra, which was developed to treat heart disease by increasing arterial flow in patients with angina.
Peter Rost, M.D. is a former VP of Pfizer and the author of Killer Drug. He is the author of “The Whistleblower, Confessions of a Healthcare Hitman.”