Two stories aptly illustrate the problem: Gerard Schick, a former Mirapex patient from Midland, Ontario, began gambling compulsively after he started taking Mirapex. Schick is reported to have lost in excess of $100,000 in the process and is serving as the representative plaintiff in the class action lawsuit.
In April, the investigative unit of Canadian network CTV spoke to another Mirapex patient, Raymond Harrison, a former logger from Clearwater in British Columbia and a sufferer of Parkinson's since his mid-30s. As his conditioned worsened, he decided to try what was then a relatively new drug on the market—Mirapex—in 1999.
The reality for Harrison and his family was a destructive and uncharacteristic pattern of compulsive spending, gambling and pornography. His wife Jerrie Wilkie told CTV's 'W5' program that what began as a series of "scratch 'n win" tickets quickly escalated to hours in casinos, online gambling and pay-per-view pornography that cost Harrison $200,000 in losses.
According to W5, Harrison's uncharacteristic behavior continued until he ran out of money, meaning that he couldn't gamble any longer. His wife also managed to block the source of her husband's pornography.
With no outlet, Harrison told CTV that he contemplated suicide.
In 2006 Harrison finally took the drastic step of quitting Mirapex cold turkey. After a year of painful withdrawal symptoms, Harrison was back to his old self, with no echoes of his recent addictions to gambling or pornography. While he suspected that Mirapex might have been the culprit, Harrison did not know for sure until his wife happened upon a magazine article that finally linked Harrison's bizarre behaviors to something more tangible.
Harrison is angry that no one—not his doctor, the manufacturer or the Canadian health authority—revealed to him that there was any risk or potential problem with Mirapex. He is suing Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd.
Evidence presented in a 2008 US trial that awarded $8.2 million to a Mirapex patient revealed the manufacturer knew as early as 1995 that Mirapex can trigger compulsive behavior.
Meanwhile, the W5 investigation revealed that Health Canada, the Canadian health regulator, had been alerted to potential problems with Mirapex in 2003. The Mirapex label was updated in Canada in 2004 to confirm the possibility of "increased or decreased libido." However, warnings about pathological gambling did not appear until 2005—and only after Health Canada learned of pending lawsuits.
READ MORE MIRAPEX COMPULSIVE GAMBLING LEGAL NEWS
"Boehringer Ingelheim has fulfilled its regulatory obligations and has met all of its legal and ethical obligations," the statement went on to say. "Healthcare professionals are advised to inform patients to seek help from their doctor if they, their family, or their care giver notice that their behaviors is unusual."
Yet Harrison gets the last word.
"Thanks a lot, assholes, for not warning me," he said. "They owe me thirteen years of my life."