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Parkinson's Drug Stills Restless Leg Syndrome

Pergolide helps patients steady their shaking limbs

MONDAY, April 26, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The drug pergolide, commonly used to treat symptoms of Parkinson's disease, seems to be effective in treating restless legs syndrome (RLS).

That's what an international study reports in the April 27 issue of Neurology.

People with RLS have sensory and motor abnormalities of the limbs associated with an urge to move. The condition affects 5 percent to 10 percent of people. Pain and discomfort caused by RLS during the night can cause severe sleep disruption and resulting daytime fatigue.

This study, funded by drug maker Eli Lilly and Co., included 100 RLS patients in seven countries. (Lilly developed the drug under the brand name Permax, but sold the marketing rights to Amarin Pharmaceuticals, Inc.) All the study volunteers were given an anti-nausea medication for 10 to 14 days before taking pergolide or a placebo. That's because pergolide is known to cause nausea.

Sleep efficiency and periodic limb movements during sleep (PLMS) were measured in the study volunteers. The severity of their RLS was assessed by the validated RLS Scale.

"Our study demonstrates that pergolide substantially improves PLMS measures and subjective sleep disturbances associated with RLS, " study author Dr. Claudia Trenkwalder, of Georg August University in Germany, said in a prepared statement.

"We are also satisfied by how well tolerated the low-dose pergolide treatment was, and that its efficacy was maintained over the long term," Trenkwalder said.

More information

You can learn more about this condition from the Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, news release, April 26, 2004
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