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Oct. 4, 2010  
  
New Article Highlights Widespread Nature of Drug-Induced Parkinsonism

Condition Is Frequently Misdiagnosed, Can Be Caused by 49 Drugs Listed on WorstPills.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new article published in WorstPills.org highlights the widespread nature of drug-induced Parkinsonism and the need for patients and doctors to be aware of the potential to be misdiagnosed. The article includes a list of 49 prescription drugs known to cause drug-induced Parkinsonism.

Recent information has established that as many as one of every 10 people who went to a Parkinson’s disease center were found to have drug-induced Parkinsonism, not the more serious disease it is often mistaken for.

The people were misdiagnosed as having the more common illness, Parkinson’s disease, which is irreversible and has unknown causes. Drug-induced Parkinsonism, however, is reversible and is brought on by medication use.

“The bad news is that too many doctors do not know about the diseases’ differences, are inadequately aware of drug-induced Parkinsonism and therefore do not get a careful history from the patient about what drugs they started before the onset,” said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group and editor of WorstPills.org. “Doctors then mistake drug-induced Parkinsonism for the more commonly occurring Parkinson’s disease.”

This means that instead of suspecting a drug-induced origin and stopping the offending drug, doctors may mistakenly treat drug-induced Parkinsonism with another drug — as though they were treating Parkinson’s disease — while leaving the patient on the drug that caused the illness in the first place, Wolfe said.

Aging can make one prone to drug-induced Parkinsonism, and older people may be especially sensitive to drug-induced Parkinsonism from antipsychotic drugs. Also, almost 100 percent of people infected with HIV will get drug-induced Parkinsonism if given antipsychotic drugs, the article said.

Some symptoms of Parkinsonism that can distinguish it from Parkinson’s disease include:
• Symptoms on both the left and right sides (with Parkinson’s disease, the symptoms are typically on only one side);
• Symptoms end once the drug is no longer used (Parkinson’s disease is chronic and progressive); and
• No degeneration in the brain (Parkinson’s disease causes brain degeneration in a specific area).

Worst Pills, Best Pills, a monthly newsletter published by Public Citizen that offers an unbiased analysis of information from a variety of sources, is available in print and electronic formats at www.WorstPills.org. The site has other searchable information about the uses, risks and adverse effects associated with prescription medications.

For a full list of symptoms, as well as a list of 49 drugs that have caused Parkinsonism, visit: http://www.worstpills.org/info/page.cfm?pageid=89. The article will be made public for one week starting on Oct. 4.

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