The anti Parkinson's drug selegiline can significantly increase the risk of death among patients who are under 80 years of age.
Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have confirmed an earlier study that the drug can be dangerous. However, they wouldn't go as far as to say, as the earlier study did, that it increased the risk of death by 50 per cent.
The research team had been asked by the Medicines Control Agency, which monitors drug safety, to investigate the drug, following alarming findings made by the Parkinson's Disease Research Group.
The group had found the mortality rate increased by 50 per cent in patients treated with selegiline and levodopa, compared with patients treated only with levodopa.
The new research team investigated the records of 12,621 patients who had been prescribed an anti parkinsonian drug.
In all, 1,720 of the patients died, and there was a "non significant" 11 per cent increase in the risk of death among patients taking selegiline with or without levodopa.
This risk increased among patients younger than 80 years, and who were taking selegiline alone (BMJ, 1998; 317: 252-4).