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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 January 2008, 21:04 GMT
Drug 'caused' gambling addiction
Paul McGarvey
Paul was prescribed the drug to treat his Parkinson's Disease
A Merseyside man ran up a 90,000 debt when he became a gambling addict after he was given a drug to treat his Parkinson's Disease.

Paul McGarvey said he felt like he was being "operated by someone else". His wife Rita said she feels she is married to a "completely different person."

Drug company Lilly say pathological gambling is a known, but very rare, side-effect of taking Pergolide.

The 52-year-old's debts have been added to the mortgage on his Kirkby home.

'Get aggressive'

Mr McGarvey said: "It's like being operated by somebody, it's a really bad feeling."

Mrs McGarvey said: "He just didn't act the same. He was horrible but I just thought he was a bit depressed because of his illness and he couldn't go to work, which he had enjoyed.

"He would just get up and get dressed and go out all day and I didn't know where he was going or what he was doing and then if I asked him when he came back he would get aggressive.

Rita McGarvey
I really miss him, I feel like I'm married to a completely different person
Rita McGarvey

"I remember saying to my sister one day that I really miss him, I feel like I'm married to a completely different person.

"It didn't even enter my head that he might be gambling."

But even when she knew the truth about the problem, Mrs McGarvey said she had no idea how deeply into debt he had become.

"Then I knew there was money going out of the bank, things going out of the house. I found slips from when things had been pawned.

"Then we started getting hundreds of pounds in bank charges every month because there was direct debits coming out that there was no money to pay - now we've got about 90,000 of debt."

But, despite the difficulties, the couple are trying to make the best of their situation.

"We don't want things to end. I thought I'd be married for the rest of my life but it is hard trying to keep things normal.

"We should have repaid our mortgage by October this year but now we've got years and years on it."

Pergolide is thought to over stimulate receptors in the brain which can lead to gambling addiction.

Some patients can become sex addicts, although this is also very rare.

Dr Kieron Breen, from the Parkinson's Disease Society, said: "It's estimated that up to 14% of people who take this class of drug will have some form of compulsive behaviour."

Paul McGarvey's claim is backed by the medical profession

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