Don't Blame Robin Williams' Suicide on His Meds: Top Doctor

Monday, 18 Aug 2014 02:15 PM

By Charlotte Libov

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One of Robin Williams’ best friends is blaming his suicide on medications he was taking for Parkinson’s disease.
 
Actor Rob Schneider tweeted that Williams, his friend of 20 years, “was on a drug treating the symptoms of Parkinson’s. One of the side effects is suicide!”
 
ALERT: Protect Your Brain From Parkinson's and Other Neurological Diseases!

However, a top neurologist dismissed Schneider’s claim, telling Newsmax Health that it is unlikely that Parkinson’s drugs made Williams suicidal.
 
Michael Okun, M.D., medical director of the National Parkinson’s Foundation, said: “There is no evidence that drugs for Parkinson’s disease cause suicide. The public needs to understand that Parkinson’s disease medications are very safe.”
 
Williams died last week at age 63 after hanging himself. The legendary comedian had long suffered from depression and substance abuse. After his death, his widow revealed he was in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.
 
Schneider, who met Williams on the set of “Saturday Night Live,” also blasted the pharmaceutical industry: “The evil pharmaceutical industry admits to over 100,000 people in the USA die a year from prescription drugs!!”
 
Parkinson’s patients are at increased risk for suicide not because of their medications, but because they commonly suffer from depression, according to Dr. Okun, co-director of the University of Florida Movement Disorders Center. In fact, about 60 percent of those with Parkinson’s are also clinically depressed.  
 
Most Parkinson’s drugs act on the brain’s supply of dopamine, which is diminished by the illness. Lack of dopamine leads to the telltale tremors and other motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s.
 
Drugs commonly prescribed to early Parkinson’s patients like Robin Williams include dopamine agonists, COMT inhibitors, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, amantadine, and anticholinergic agents.
 
According to Dr. Okun, only dopamine agonists, which include ropinirole and pramipexole, have raised any concern about suicide risk, and even this connection is tenuous.
 
Parkinson’s drugs are considered safe even when taken in combination with antidepressant medications, said Dr. Okun.

ALERT: Protect Your Brain From Parkinson's and Other Neurological Diseases!

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