Ropinerole HCL is a generic medication commonly marketed under the brand name Requip®. A doctor may prescribe it to alleviate symptoms in patients with Parkinson's disease. These can include involuntary shaking, balance problems, and muscle stiffness. Some patients may also take this drug for restless legs syndrome (RLS). Ropinerole HCL works by mimicking the effects of dopamine in the brain.
Patients may be prescribed the regular tablet or an extended-release tablet designed to let medicine absorb gradually into the body. Those taking it for restless legs syndrome will use the regular tablet, usually once daily. It should be taken between one to three hours prior to going to sleep. Patients using ropinerole HCL to treat Parkinson's disease will either take the extended-release tablet once daily or the regular tablet three times a day. It may be taken without food, however a snack may help alleviate an upset stomach that this drug may sometimes cause.
Some patients may receive a starter kit with varying dosages of medicine. Each pill is labeled for use on a specific day, such as day one, day two, etc. This method is used when the patient will gradually increase his dosage. Starter kit pills must be taken strictly in order.
Certain side effects may occur with the use of ropinerole HCL, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they are persistent or become severe. Patients have experienced nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, along with heartburn and flatulence. Others have noticed a decrease in appetite, weight loss, and general weakness. Difficult or frequent urination, muscle or joint pain, and swelling of the limbs and extremities have also been reported. Other side effects can include uncontrollable body movements, confusion, and decreased sensitivity to touch.
More serious side effects may also occur, which require immediate medical care. These can include vision changes, such as double vision, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Hallucinations and fainting can also occur. Other patients have reported a rapid or irregular heartbeat and difficulty swallowing.
Complications may also develop from the use of ropinerole HCL. Patients should be aware that they may be at an increased risk of scarring or thickening of the heart valves and lungs. They may also have a higher risk of a type of skin cancer called melanoma. Other patients have also reported incidences of compulsive behavior, such as gambling or sexual urges. In addition, those who are breastfeeding should not use this drug, because it can decrease the production of breast milk.
Before using ropinerole HCL, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. As of 2011, it is unknown whether it may harm an unborn baby. Ropinerole HCL may be contraindicated for use by those who have kidney or liver disease, heart disease, or those who smoke. It may also interact with other drugs, including levodopa, ciprofloxacin, and hormonal contraceptives.