Pergolide and cabergoline, two drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease, are directly linked to an increased risk of heart-valve damage, according to two recently published articles in the New England Journal of Medicine.
A study tested 155 patients in Italy taking an assortment of medications to treat Parkinson’s. The study found 23% who took pergolide and 29% who took cabergoline later developed leaky heart-valves.
In a German study, patients using the drugs pergolide and cabergoline were four to seven times more likely to have heart-valve damage compared to those not taking either drug.
Eli Lilly introduced Pergolide in 1989 under the name Permax. The drug is also used to treat restless legs syndrome. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety alert saying that a small number of patients developed heart-valve problems after taking Permax. Before the warning was issued, approximately half a million people had taken Permax during its previous 14 years on the market.
Pfizer’s cabergoline, sold under the name Dostinex and Cabaser, is mostly marketed in Europe.