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Drugs for restless legs syndrome

Mirapex and Requip are approved, and others are in development.

June 28, 2010

Two drugs are now approved to combat restless legs syndrome — the dopamine boosters Mirapex and Requip. In addition, some drugs approved for other conditions can be legally prescribed for RLS. These include Neurontin, a pain and anti-seizure medication, pain relievers such as oxycodone, codeine and methadone, and anti-anxiety drugs such as the benzodiazepines.

An RLS patch and a new pill are under development but in their current forms were recently rejected by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Some patients find it helpful to divide their medication doses, taking half at supper time, to help prevent RLS while reading or watching TV in the evening, and the other half an hour before bedtime.

Even though RLS is linked to low brain levels of iron, don't rush out and take iron supplements because you can be iron-deficient in the brain and have normal blood levels. Taking too much iron orally can cause constipation and, rarely, iron overload disease.

If you find that antihistamines make RLS worse, stop taking them.

— Judy Foreman

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