Warning: May Cause Intense Urges…

Intern Rebecca here, with thoughts on drugs…

No matter what the kids on the street may say, drugs can mess you up. Don’t worry, this isn’t another Charlie Sheen blog – he’s already got press enough for three men, at least. Instead, let’s delve into the story of another kind of addict: the prescription drug addict. What could be more devastating than addiction handed directly to you by a doctor (other than the bill)?

Meet Didier Jambart, a 50-something father of two, and former employee of the French Defense Ministry. Jambart started taking a drug way back in the Paris-Hilton’s-sex-tape days of 2003 called REQUIP. The drug is used to treat Parkinson’s disease via dopamine agonists, which are common in all leading prescription drugs for Parkinson’s.

Unfortunately for Jambart, as his Parkinson’s cleared up, his life crumbled. Within the first year, he gambled his family’s savings away by placing bets on horses online. Once he burned through that stack of cash, Jambart spent his income, then even sold his children’s toys, to support his new hobby. The next year, the very straight and once happily married husband grew addicted to gay porn, and even took gay lovers, whom he also found online.  By 2005, Jambart had already attempted suicide three times.

And he blames? The drug, of course.

The first time I read through Jambart’s story, I thought, “There’s no way. This man is obviously disturbed.” But once I read the warning labels issued with REQUIP, I changed my tune. They include:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had an urge to gamble that was difficult to control … You should know that some people who took medications such as ropinirole (REQUIP) developed gambling problems or other intense urges or behaviors that were compulsive or unusual for them, such as increased sexual urges or behaviors. There is not enough information to tell whether the people developed these problems because they took the medication or for other reasons. Call your doctor if you have an urge to gamble that is difficult to control, you have intense urges, or you are unable to control your behavior.

This seemed to make the case cut and dry, until I learned that these warnings were not added to the REQUIP label until 2006, after Jambart had stopped REQUIP and started his lawsuit. As of today, only a handful of other cases have been filed against REQUIP for similar side effects, so it is hard to say if Jambart himself affected the addition of this label.

Jambart is seeking $610,000 in damages (he’ll need half that just to cover his gambling debts) from both REQUIP and his neurologist, whom he claims mislead him regarding the drug’s potential side effects. His current crummy situation aside, does Jambart stand a chance in court?

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