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Medicine Responsible for Compulsive Gambling?

11 January 2011 by admin

It would seem so. Or at least that is what an Italian man and his lawyer are claiming. The medicine in question is called dopamine agonists and it is used as a means of reducing the symptoms suffered by those with Parkinson’s disease, a disease known primarily for the shaking and jerky movement of the limbs. It is a degenerative disease that often requires extra care for the person suffering from it. Medicine often helps reduce the symptoms, allowing for the patient to have a more normal life.

But this particular drug used to reduce the symptoms of Parkinson’s will also turn you into an impulsive gambler it seems. Paolo Chisci is a 70 year old man from Carrara, Italy. He used to be a shopkeeper but is now retired; it is not said whether his retirement is a result of his case of Parkinson’s or if he retired at a certain age like many Americans do. Chisci was never known to be a gambling man. He was actually a saver by reputation.

Chisci went on the dopamine agonists in 1999, and continued to take the drug prescribed by his doctor until 2005. It was in this time period that Chisci found himself compulsively gambling. He would purchase as many as five hundred scratch off lottery tickets in a single day. He also found himself regularly playing slot machines in casinos. Such things would happen not long after taking his prescribed dose of dopamine agonists. After six years on the drug, Chisci claims to have lost around $514,000 and his social standing has been affected. His lawyer, Riccardo Lenzetti, said, “We have carried out a thorough examination through psychiatrists on our client which show before he started taking the drugs he was a regular saver. However, he then started spending almost all his monthly pension on gambling, and then also began borrowing from his friends and was unable to pay them back, which has resulted in his social standing being affected.”

I would like to note that since 2005 compulsive gambling-type behavior, including addictions to shopping and online pornography as well as gambling, are listed as possible side effects of dopamine agonists in the informational leaflet that is included with the drug.

But by 2005 Chisci had been taken off of the drug and the damage to his financial resources and social reputation was done. Now he and his lawyer are suing his doctors, who prescribed the drug, for the money he lost in compulsive gambling as a result of the drug. It has been rumored that even Eli Lilly and Boeringher Ingelheim, the drug’s manufacturers, have be called to court to give evidence on the drug they created.

What will really bake your noodle is that Chisci’s case is not the first legal case in regard to dopamine agonists resulting in compulsive gambling. There have been several cases in the United States, the most well known of which is that of Gary Charbonneau. Charbonneau successfully sued for $8.2 million in damages as a result of compulsive gambling behavior resulting from the same drug.

I can hear you conspiracy theorists out there, and I do not believe that this is some conspiracy between doctors and/or the drug’s manufacturers with casinos to extract money from patients with Parkinson’s as a result of the drug being taken. I do not think that the casinos are giving a piece of their earnings to doctors or the drug’s manufacturers for causing compulsive gambling in patients. It is really only a side effect—admittedly a very nasty side effect—of a drug that was designed to help those with Parkinson’s.

But hearing about compulsive gambling such as this, resulting from a drug rather than an addiction brought on by continual play, that makes it even more imperative that safeguards need to be in place for the United States should they move to regulate online gambling, like how New Jersey is headed, to help individuals such as Chisci from making actions that could damage them

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