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Mirapex and One Woman's Addiction

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Deidra Flower, age 45, lives just outside Dallas, Texas with her husband and two kids. Her whole life turned around in just 15 minutes, back in September 2003, when she walked out of her doctor's office diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and a prescription for Mirapex..

"I should have researched what was going into my body," says Deidra. "My doctor gave me lots of information on the disease but not on the drugs I was taking."

The first side effects were manageable, compared to what was in store. Deidra was "sick as a dog", and lost 12 lbs. Now at a mere 94 lbs, she looked like a skeleton. She couldn't eat, even the smell of food made her nauseous. "My doctor said it was a perfectly common side effect and I would work through it," Deidra says. "It took me a year to get 10 lbs back." But soon, her concern over weight would be the last thing on her mind.

Deidra was president of a family company: her father was the owner and her husband Doug (not his real name) also worked for the company. Deidra and Doug frequently traveled to medical trade shows. The trade shows took them to New Orleans, Las Vegas, places where there were casinos.

"I lived in the casino, and had never done that in my life," says Deidra. "At 4 a.m. my husband would come looking for me and tell me I had to work in three hours, and I still wouldn't leave... He was so pissed off at me. I would sit in front of the slots for 10 hrs at a time." Doug would later tell Deidra that she wasn't even having fun." I don't know if I was having fun or not. I just remember not being able to get up from the seat."

Deidra thought about her new obsession with gambling; she thought it was because she now had the opportunity. But that wasn't true, because there was a casino close to home and she had never gone there — not before taking Mirapex.

"One year ago I started sneaking off; I told my husband I was going shopping. He finally figured out where I was and he would drag me out of the casino at 2 a.m," says Deidra.

"Right after Christmas holidays, was the first day we were supposed to go back to work. I had been internet gambling at work, using the company's business account. I thought that, if I hit one big slot [machine], I could win all this money back for the company... instead I just dug myself into a deeper hole." She arrived at work, then promptly turned the car around and drove to the closest casino.

Doug finally told his father-in-law about her addiction. They pulled the company records and found that she had spent over $60,000.

When confronted, Deidra just cried uncontrollably. "I thought it was something I was taking," she says."I went online, typed in Mirapex and saw the link [to gambling]. I woke up my husband and said I know what is wrong with me." By this time she was hysterical. And furious. She called the Parkinson's Disease clinic and told the specialist's assistant that she wasn't taking any more Mirapex.

"His assistant said to me, 'Honey you aren't the first, don't feel guilty, this is happening to a lot of others and then, when I spoke to the Parkinson's specialist and told him what had happened to me, he suggested getting involved in a class action lawsuit."

She was also obsessed with sex.

"It was another compulsion that I couldn't control," says Deidra. "Before Mirapex, I never initiated sex and then I couldn't get enough (Doug wasn't complaining). So now that I am off it, my sexual needs may slow down."

Deidra has been off Mirapex for nine days. The Parkinson's tremors are worse but she is "out of the fog." In two weeks, when the Mirapex is out of her system, Deidra's doctor will prescribe something else to combat the tremors.

Meanwhile, Mirapex has cost Deidra her job, destroyed her family and just about ruined her life. "My father won't speak to me and we have lost our stock in the company that took 10 years to build. My husband had over $200,000 invested and he will never see a dime of it. We are now unemployed. We spent this past Christmas in hell — he is afraid to leave me because I have been suicidal. I am not exaggerating, I haven't even wanted to get up. I just thank God my husband has supported me through every bit of it."

If he hadn't, Deidra might not be here to tell her story.

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