A federal jury yesterday awarded $8.2 million to a plaintiff who claims that the Parkinson’s disease drug Mirapex caused him to gamble compulsively, according toMealey's Emerging Drugs & Devices. And the verdict came in the first bellwether trial in the Mirapex multidistrict litigation in the US District Court in Minneapolis. A second trial began yesterday, by the way.
Pfizer and Boehringer Ingelheim, which are also defendants, moved to separate the injury phase from the damage phase.
Gary Charbonneau says he was prescribed Mirapex in December 1997 to treat his Parkinson’s disease and stopped taking it in November 2005. He claims the drug caused him to become a compulsive gambler from March 2002 to February 2006, during which time he lost more than $260,000. And he aruged that Mirapex causes compulsive gambling and that the defendants knew of the side effect but did not conduct studies or warn doctors or patients. This is his lawsuit.
The drugmakers argued the FDA concluded after additional research that “available information does not constitute proof of a cause and effect relationship” between Mirapex and “intense impulse behavior.” And they maintained the four-year time difference between when Charbonneau started taking Mirapex and began gambling indicates “gambled as a matter of choice, not compulsion.”
Pfizer and Boehringer also insisted Charbonneau had risk factors for pathological gambling, including previous gambling, instances of significant winnings and easy access to gambling.