Quick Hits: Unusual Side Effects With Parkinson’s Meds, Lower Statin Use, & More

Warnings about potential unusual side effects such as compulsive shopping or eating, and gambling should be placed on certain drugs that treat Parkinson’s disease,according to a consumer advocacy group. Public Citizen has filed a petition with the FDA asking the black box warnings – the strongest warning possible – should be placed on 6 drugs that are dopamine agonist drugs: Apokyn (apomorphine), Parlodel/Cycloset (bromocriptine), Dostinex (cabergoline), Mirapex (pramipexole), Requip (ropinirole) and Neupro (rotigotine), which are used to treat Parkinson’s and restless leg syndrome. Public Citizen claims that as many as 1 in 5 patients taking a dopamine agonist drug may develop certain impulse-control problems and compulsive behaviors. The organization cites the example of a wife whose husband was on Mirapex. She phoned her husband’s neurologist reporting that he recently began buying pornography tapes and admitted to recent extramarital affairs. He also started gambling, losing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Posted June 29, 2016. Via Public Citizen.

More than 200,000 people in the UK stopped using statins6 months after a British medical journal published two articles questioning whether the benefits of the cholesterol-lowering drugs outweigh the risks from side effects. However, researchers say that assuming the drop in use was due to media attention surrounding the BMJ articles, there could be an estimated 2,000 or more heart attacks or strokes over the next 10 years, which would not have occurred if these patients had continued taking statins. Although severe side effects are not common with statins, muscle pain and weakness had been a common complaint in some patients. Posted June 28, 2016. Via EurekaAlert.

Annual pelvic exams may not be necessary for women, according to a new recommendation from the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). The panel of experts in preventative and primary care said that the available evidence is “insufficient” to assess the benefits vs. risks of the exam. In addition, they found there is no concrete evidence that pelvic exams can extend a woman’s life. However, current USPSTF guidelines about pelvic screenings for cervical cancer remain in effect. That test is recommended every 3 years for women ages 21 to 29, and every 5 years for ages 30 to 65. In July 2014, the American College of Physiciansissued a new guideline saying annual pelvic exams for healthy women who are asymptomatic were unnecessary. The group added that the procedure can expose these women to “unnecessary and avoidable harms, including anxiety, embarrassment, and discomfort” as well as false positive findings. Posted June 28, 2016. Via The New York Times.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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