Parkinson’s drug ’caused’ pensioner’s gambling

A pensioner has lost his compensation battle for wrongful diagnosis after he claimed a Parkinson's disease drug led him to lose €600,000 through gambling.

Parkinson's drug 'caused' pensioner's gambling
The pensioner lost €600,000 gambling. Photo: conorwithonen/Flickr

The prosecutor of Turin dismissed the claim by Gianluca Marchetti, 77, who said a wrongful diagnosis led him to be prescribed Mirapexin, which allegedly turned him into a compulsive gambler.

Marchetti was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2005 and prescribed the drug, which affects nerves in the brain. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) says that one in every 100 people that take Mirapexin, which is produced by German firm Boehringer Ingelheim, can experience behavioural changes, including an urge to gambling.

Soon afterwards the retired pharmacist, from Rivoli in the north-west Piedmont region, became addicted to gambling.

“In three years I squandered my wealth…I gambled hundreds of euros a day, it was always exhilarating and I even stopped eating and sleeping,” Marchetti told La Repubblica newspaper.

He then saw a TV programme which linked gambling to pharmaceutical drugs and had his Mirapexin dosage reduced, to little effect.

The pensioner attempted to get compensation from Boehringer Ingelheim and his local health authority, although the plea fell on deaf ears.

It was during this time that Marchetti discovered that he had been wrongly diagnosed with Parkinson’s and as a result had been taking the drug unnecessarily.

Such news prompted Marchetti to turn his claim for compensation against the neurologist who diagnosed him. This claim was rejected in Turin, leaving the pensioner with €546 a month to live on.

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