Ropinirole hydrochloride (HCl) is a type of drug called a dopamine agonist, which mimics the effects of the neurotransmitter dopamine. This action allows it to be used to treat Parkinson's disease, a medical condition typified by a lack of dopamine. The term "HCl" in ropinirole HCl refers to the production of this drug in its hydrochloride salt form, to make the molecule more stable and increase is absorption rate into the bloodstream when taken orally.
Many symptoms of Parkinson's disease, such as balance issues, movement deficits, muscle stiffness, and tremors are caused by a lack of dopamine provided to certain areas of the brain. By substituting for the effects of dopamine, ropinirole HCl can alleviate these symptoms. An instant-release version of this pill is normally taken three times a day, with a meal, or the extended-release formulation may be taken every morning to provide relief throughout the day. Normally, a low dose of this drug is administered at first, and every few weeks, the dose is increased until optimal symptom relief is reached.
Patients may experience a variety of side effects when taking ropinirole HCl. Many of these side effects are mild in nature, and do not require medical attention. Stomach pain, nausea, upset stomach, and other gastrointestinal effects are generally common adverse effects. Drowsiness, weakness, and fatigue are also somewhat common for many patients to experience. These effects tend to become less prominent over time, as patients become use to the effects of the medication.
Rarely, more severe side effects can result from taking ropinirole HCl, which do require immediate medical attention. These effects include blurring or double vision, hallucinations, chest pain, and irregular heart beat. Effects like these can all be symptoms of more serious medical conditions, which is why a doctor should be contacted if they occur. Allergic reactions also require medical attention, because symptoms like shortness of breath and swelling of the face and tongue can lead to life-threatening anaphylactic, or systemic, reactions.
Some types of medications can interact with ropinirole HCl when they are taken together. Anti-psychotic medications, which reduce the efficacy of dopamine in the brain, can similarly reduce the effect of ropinirole, so these medications are not normally prescribed at the same time. Hormone therapies involving estrogen can reduce how quickly this dopamine agonist is excreted from the body, allowing it to affect patients for longer periods of time. Alcohol and other depressants may increase drowsiness from this drug, potentially to dangerous levels, so this combination should be avoided.