Permax was prescribed to patients suffering with Parkinson’s disease and is used to treat symptoms of the condition such as stiffness, tremors, spasms and poor muscle control. Permax has the same effects as dopamine in the brain, since that is essentially what Parkinson’s does to the body—decrease dopamine levels. Permax was withdrawn from the US market in 2007 and is classified as an ergot-derived dopamine receptor agonist. It was approved by the FDA in 1989. Permax has also been prescribed to treat restless leg syndrome (RLS). When Permax was taken off the market in 2007, it was estimated that nearly half a million people had been prescribed the drug since its approval.
In 2003, the FDA became concerned about reports of patients developing cardiac valvular heart disease after using Permax. After studies were conducted in Germany, Italy and at the Mayo Clinic in the US, it was decided that Permax should be taken off the market. In these studies, it was discovered that Permax increased the risk of heart valve disease in patients. Of the patients who suffered from these side effects, some required valve replacement, while other cases proved fatal.
Eli Lilly and Co., the manufacturer of Permax, also issued a statement in 2003 warning doctors of other serious side effects including falling asleep with little to no warning, or “blacking out.” Some patients even reported this occurrence while driving or participating in other dangerous activities.
Serious side effects may include:
- Allergic reactions (difficulty breathing; closing of the throat; swelling of the lips, tongue, or face; or hives)
- Irregular heartbeats
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not real), confusion, or altered consciousness
- Dizziness (especially when rising from a sitting or lying position)
Less serious side effects may include:
- Mild nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, or decreased appetite
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Dry Mouth
- Agitation or anxiety