Requip Medication as Restless Legs Syndrome Treatment

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The prescription medication ropinirole — sold under the brand names of Requip and Requip XL — is a commonly prescribed drug used to treat restless legs syndrome. How does Requip work to treat restless legs by affecting dopamine and what are some of the most common side effects?

Woman's legs in bed
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How It Works

Requip is a medication that acts on the nervous system at the site of receptors for a neurotransmitter, or chemical messenger, called dopamine. Specifically, Requip acts to stimulate these receptors.


Requip is a dopamine receptor stimulant that can be helpful in treating conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and restless legs syndrome (RLS).

You may be prescribed a standard or extended-release (XL) version of the medication. The difference is in how long it takes the body to metabolize the drug and subsequently how many times per day you would need to take it, but the effects are the same.

Who Should Not Use It

There are some situations where Requip should be used with caution. You may wish to speak with your healthcare provider if these things apply to you. For example, you should be cautious if you have severe heart disease, low blood pressure, or if your liver does not work normally.

If you are using other medications that may depress the central nervous system, Requip may not be appropriate, so your healthcare provider should be aware of all the medications you are taking. If you have had changes in your smoking habits, if you have other sleep disorders, or if you are elderly, caution should also be observed.

Side Effects

There are many potential side effects of any drug. Although an individual likely won't experience most side effects associated with the drug — and may indeed not have any of them — some that commonly occur with Requip include:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Low blood pressure with standing
  • Vomiting
  • Upset stomach
  • Malaise or feeling unwell
  • Swelling
  • Loss or change of sensation including numbness or tingling
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Dry mouth and sore throat
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vision changes
  • Abnormal movements

With the use of any drug, there are also risks of serious side effects. These occur more rarely, but with the use of Requip may include:

  • Sudden sleep episodes
  • Fainting spells (syncope)
  • Severe low blood pressure or drops in blood pressure with standing
  • Slow heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Hallucinations
  • Abnormal movements
  • Malignant melanoma (skin cancer)
  • Compulsive behaviors
  • Pleural effusion (collection of fluid by the lungs)
  • Pleural fibrosis (scarring of the lungs)
  • Heart valve abnormalities

Safety Precautions

As described above, certain people should use Requip with caution or not at all. You should avoid stopping it abruptly and the dose should be tapered off gradually instead. While you are taking the medication, you should have routine skin examinations and your blood pressure should be monitored carefully during any dose adjustments to prevent low blood pressure episodes. The safety of using Requip during pregnancy or breastfeeding is unknown. If you experience any difficulties, you should be in close contact with your primary healthcare provider or sleep specialist.

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  • "Requip." Epocrates Rx Pro. Version 3.4, 2010. Epocrates, Inc. San Mateo, California.