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British Columbian Woman Claims Drug Led Her to Gamble Compulsively

British Columbian Woman Claims Drug Led Her to Gamble Compulsively

On November 4, 2019, Jenifer Purchas from British Columbia was prescribed the antipsychotic drug Abilify by her doctor, Stephen Ayotunde Ogunremi. Abilify is an antipsychotic drug, but Purchas believes that after taking this medication, she developed a series of disorders such as compulsive gambling, shopping, eating, and even a sexual behavior disorder. This resulted in her incurring huge debts, a much higher mortgage, and in losing relationships with friends and family.

Abilify is a brand name of the antipsychotic drug medication aripiprazole, which is usually prescribed to people showing signs of schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and manic or mixed episodes of bipolar-1 disorders. Purchas says it was only after she started treatment with the said medication that she began gambling compulsively and going on regular shopping sprees. “By around the end of January 2020, she had accumulated significant debt and suffered extensive losses,” says the lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

Lawsuit claims medical negligence for the prescribing of antipsychotic drug

The lawsuit also claims that Jennifer Purchas is a victim of medical negligence, ending up with multiple mental disorders and considerable weight gain due to compulsive eating, which has become a threat to her health. The British Columbian citizen is suing for special and aggravated injuries as well as financial loss, considering the massive debt she is in with the bank, friends, and family members.

The lawsuit also says that “at all material times, the defendants knew or ought to have known that Abilify posed a non-trivial and serious risk of compulsive behaviors in patients, including compulsive gambling and spending”. The defendants named in the lawsuit are Dr. Ogunremi and Shoppers Drug Mart, the pharmacy which sold Ms. Purchas the medication. The suit also claims that “the defendants failed to follow-up with the plaintiff to determine whether she developed compulsive behaviours due to the drug Abilify.”

To date, no response has been filed by the defendants. Both Shoppers Drug Mart and Tri-Cities Mental Health Centre, where Dr. Ogunremi works, refused to comment on the situation.

It might be important to note that in 2016, the US Food and Drug Administration had released a statement warning that uncontrollable and compulsive urges to gamble, shop, have sex and binge eat have all been linked to the use of aripiprazole. Just last year in 2020, a judge in Ontario certified a national class-action lawsuit in Canada for patients who were given Abilify between July 2009 and February 2017.

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation has always acted responsibly and never turned a blind eye to the issue of gambling addiction among lottery and casino players. This can be seen through the successful campaigns it has carried out throughout the years and the effort the Crown corporation makes to keep coming up with new solutions. The latest ones are being discussed in New Horizons in Responsible Gambling pre-conference, where many underlying problems of gambling are being discussed.

Read about BCLC’s award-winning responsible gaming protocol

The BCLC has recently been awarded the highest possible prize in the gaming industry for its fight against compulsive gambling. Its efforts were noticed by The World Lottery Association, who awarded the Crown corporation of the province a Level 4 certification. This is the most prestigious recognition any casino and lottery operator or overseer can get, a sure nod to the continuous and innovative suggestions the BCLC keeps coming up with to keep its players safe.

Read about responsible gambling

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