The Men’s Health article starts with a cautionary tale: A Michigan man named Bernard Zeitler was doing well at quelling his lottery addiction when suddenly he started to get renewed urges to buy a scratchable lottery ticket. What had changed? His doctor had prescribed a new antidepressant — one that the Food and Drug Administration has linked, in rare cases, to an uncontrollable urge to gamble.
Reporter Cindy Kuzma quotes medical experts and FDA warnings to describe five drugs whose “scary side effects,” even though usually rare, are worth noting.
Aripiprazole (sold under brand names Abilify and Aristada) is prescribed for people with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Tourette’s syndrome or depression. In May, the FDA issued a warning that its side effects could include “compulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge-eat, shop or have sex.” But there have been only 167 such cases reported since the drug was approved in 2002, and about 1.6 million people got the drug in 2015 alone.
Zolpidem (Ambien) is a sleeping aid for people with insomnia. The scary side effect is walking, eating, driving or even having sex while sleeping — but such incidents have been reported in fewer than 1 percent of people who take it. Nevertheless, the FDA added a warning to the drug’s label in 2007.
Fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Levaquin and Cipro), prescribed for pneumonia, urinary-tract infections and other ailments, have been linked to tendon pain and ruptures. Although such cases are rare, the FDA issued a warning in May.
Rifampin (Rifadin) is prescribed to treat infections including tuberculosis. The side effect here is harmless but scary: Your urine, sweat or tears could turn red or purple. The effect disappears when you stop taking it — but Kuzma warns that if you wear contact lenses, red tears could permanently stain them.