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Aspen and Pfizer Australia face lawsuits

Two pharma firms in Australia face a class action lawsuit following alleged links between Parkinson's treatments and addictive behaviour

Pfizer Australia and Aspen Pharmacare face legal action after more than 100 people filed a class action lawsuit against the companies claiming that they developed gambling and sex addictions as a result of taking Parkinson's treatments Cabaser (cabergoline), made by Pfizer, and Permax (pergolide mesylate), made by Aspen.

According to reports in the Sydney Morning Herald the group of claimants include people who have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as the result of compulsive gambling 'linked to drugs they took between 1997 and last year'.

Most of the claimants developed gambling addictions and a few fell into a cycle of compulsive sexual behaviour such as looking at pornography online.

Cabaser and Permax are dopamine agonists and mimic the effects of dopamine in the brain. The chemical is known to cause a 'rush' and many scientists believe it can cause risk-taking behaviour and addictions.

A study published in the May issue of the Archives of Neurology suggests links between dopamine agonists treatments for Parkinson's disease and a rise in impulse control disorders such as pathological gambling, compulsive shopping and binge eating.

Law firm Arnold Thomas & Becker in Australia is handling the case. In its writ filed with the Federal Court, it claims that Pfizer Australia and Aspen breached a duty of care by failing to research adequately possible side effects of their individual Parkinson's treatments.

The writ also claims that both companies failed to provide adequate warnings of increased risk of impulse control disorders associated with the drugs.

Pfizer Australia and Aspen have not yet been served with the writ and have therefore not yet filed a response.

Similar lawsuits are being considered in Canada, France and the UK.

8th June 2010

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