Rotigotine: Another new drug with weird and worrying side-effects

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cure worse than problem

Rotigotine is a new drug for the treatment of Parkinsons disease and as with all drugs in this class, it plays with your brain chemistry.

It’s in the form of a patch, applied every 24 hours, and without going into all the wondrous benefits (just marginally above the dreaded placebo), here is a list of side-effects:

Nausea, dizziness, dyskinesia (shaking), insomnia, vomiting and hallucinations, headache, somnolence and rashes at the site of application (itching, redness and burning).

Somnolence (sudden onset of sleep) should be quite a big worry. This is a “sleep attack” and can occur any time (some have been on rotigotine for about a year before the sleep attacks occur). It may occur when driving, using tools or operating machinery.

Side-effects, continued:

Increased libido, hypersexuality (this may be cancelled by sudden sleep attacks), compulsive behaviours, repetitive, meaningless actions (“Punding”—what a great word—could apply to watching TV cooking shows or driving on a freeway). Also included are binge-drinking and pathological gambling (hang on, has rotigotine been added to our water-supply?).

But wait, there’s more:

Also, cardiac valve abnormality, blood-pressure changes, visual disturbances (retinal detachment), and melanoma and other skin cancers complete the list (but there may be more around the corner).

I was staggered at one of the “mabs” (mono-clonal antibodies) when I read about homicidal and suicidal tendencies (we hope that suicide comes first), but the side-effects of all new drugs seem weirder and weirder.

Robert Gosstray

Robert Gosstray is a retired pharmacist and the resident health writer for Midlifexpress. He is the author of The Pharmacist's Secrets: Drugs, lies and money.

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