• 16:06
  • 20.10.2021
Laxative death: Chemist speaks out

Laxative death: Chemist speaks out

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The chemist manager who sold hundreds of laxatives to Claudia La Balla before her death had “no ethical dilemma” handing over the pills.

An inquest in Adelaide heard Jessica Cutting sold dozens of boxes of laxatives a week to the 28-year-old mother in the lead-up to her death in June 2014. She told the court the drugs were to help treat cancer, 9 News reported.

The court heard staff would put aside 25 to 30 boxes of Dulcolax each week, believing it was to assist with Ms La Bella’s cancer treatment, and denied having to meet specific sales targets.
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Previously, the court heard Claudia La Bella’s cancer claim was an “elaborate ruse” right up until her death in June 2014, according to local media reports. The cover-up even fooled her husband of five years.

Cutting reportedly told the inquest she went to pharmacist Carolyn Tan for advice about Cutting. Tan, however, denied ever having conversations about the laxatives.

“It would raise alarm bells for sure because nobody needs that sort of quantity,” Ms Tan told the inquest, according to 9 News.
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Tan also told the court she would never have approved the sales and the first she learned of them was when police came to the store to collect statements after Ms La Bella’s death.

The young mother steadfastly maintained her story that her dramatic weight loss and inability to hold down food was because of cancer, The Advertiser reported.

The court heard she had been losing weight by spending around $500 a week on thousands of laxative tablets, according to Channel 9.
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It also heard how Mrs Labella weighed just 35 kilograms at the time of her death and a CT scan of her gastric contents revealed “dozens of pills”.

Coroner Mark Johns also heard how her husband picked her up from hospital on a number of occasions because she told him she could not drive after having surgery, according to ABC.

Mr La Bella told the court he would make weekly trips to Chemist King at Hectorville to purchase handfuls of boxes of the laxatives his wife requested.
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“There was always a supply in the pantry area,” he told the court, according to ABC.

“In the beginning no more than two or three (packets of laxatives were in the pantry), as it progressed, 15.”

The Dulcolax laxatives she was consuming were bought in packs of 200, which had a recommended daily dosage of two to three tablets per day, for no more than a week.
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By the time Ms La Bella was admitted to Royal Adelaide Hospital in June 2014 with severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. she could not walk unaided.

The court heard Ms La Bella, who had never been diagnosed with anorexia, was skeletal, severely underweight and dangerously dehydrated.

However, her husband on Tuesday said he was confused when his wife insisted he not tell doctors about her ovarian cancer, The Advertiser reports.
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More details started to emerge about the young mother’s life on the first day of the inquest.

The court heard her employer — an Adelaide architect — also reportedly claimed she had stolen $374,000 from the business while managing its accounts from home.

According to The Advertiser, the coroner will hear evidence later this week that Ms La Bella may have recovered from anorexia if she had been detained by hospital staff.
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The inquest continues.
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