When unwell we all hope for a life changing medicine to improve things but certain sufferers of Parkinson got a rather different change from their prescribed drug Requip (ropinirole hydrochloride) than they hoped for. The drug is a dopamine agonist, meaning it influences the dopamine receptors and has an effect upon things like motivation, pleasure, cognition, memory, learning, and fine motor control. Hence it is used to treat common neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s and Restless Legs Syndrome. It is made by the pharmaceutical giant Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), which also makes other high profile drugs, such as Avandia, with unpleasant and dangerous side effects.
It is has been well known for some time that Requip can cause dramatic personality changes to some of its users. The side effects include sex addiction, compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping, cross dressing and obsessive compulsive disorder. There have been 178 reported UK cases and a French bank manager won around £150k in damages from GSK in a successfully fought defence to the drug giants appeal against the earlier finding of a French court this week. He said the drug turned him into “hyper-sexual gay cross-dresser” who exposed himself on the internet and attempted suicide. It shattered his family’s life.
The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency take the view that the benefits of the drug do outweigh the risks and therefore the drug has approval for use in the UK. GSK has known about these side effects for sometime but only since 2006 has the Patient Information leaflet warned of compulsive behaviors being reported as linked to use of the drug. The official ‘party line’ form GSK is that ‘these reports are uncommon’ and that ‘inclusion of a report on their database does not necessarily mean that the events described were caused by the drug.’
Advice for patients taking the drug must be to monitor personality changes carefully and report them to your GP as soon as you become concerned about them.
If you have suffered as a result of Defective Medicine, please feel free to contact Express Solicitors on 0800 158 5274 for free legal advice and help with a claim.