More than 7 per cent of sufferers who take the drugs develop the compulsion, a problem that afflicts just 1 per cent of the general population.
Gambling isn't the only compulsive behaviour pattern triggered by the drugs. Patients are almost as likely to become compulsive shoppers or they become hypersexual.
The gambling problem is even more prevalent among younger patients who take the drug, or who take a dopamine agonist and levodopa together.
Doctors are concerned that the many internet gambling sites make it too easy for their Parkinson's patients to lose a great deal of money. If family or friends suspect the patient is gambling, the doctor can change the prescription to just levodopa or some other drug.
(Source: British Medical Journal, 2007; 334: 810-11).
E-news broadcast 26 April 2007 No.354 [Subscribe]