Numerous Abilify lawsuits have been filed in recent years. The FDA warned in May 2016 that consumers using the anti-psychotic drug Abilify Maintena, Aristada, and generics reported uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop and have sex. The behaviors disappear or lessen when the use of Abilify is discontinued or reduced. The FDA added new warnings about compulsive behaviors to the drug labels and patient Medication Guides for all aripiprazole products. The warning followed 184 official reports made to the FDA between 2002 and 2016 that reported 184 instances of impulse control, with uncontrolled gambling being the most common. The drug is manufactured by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and distributed and marketed with Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Multidistrict Litigation in Abilify Lawsuits
As of August 2017 there are 192 cases pending under Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) (In Re: Abilify (Aripiprazole) Products Liability Litigation – MDL 2734) in federal court in the Northern District of Florida. Abilify cases were combined for the purpose of MDL in October 2016 to simplify and consolidate the litigation process.
Cases from around the country may be combined in a single court and judge in multidistrict litigation in order to combine and simplify pretrial discovery. If the cases are not settled or dismissed the presiding judge and parties involved may choose one or more representatives case to litigate. These “bellwether” cases offer guidance to other plaintiffs about if and how to continue. The remaining cases will then be returned to their home jurisdictions for litigation. Those bellwether cases may be litigated in 2017.
The plaintiffs contend that Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb should have been aware that the drug caused the compulsive behaviors reported to the FDA. Consumers should have been warned of the associated risks, according to plaintiffs attorneys.
In March 2017 presiding U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers issued an order referring plaintiff and defense attorneys to a settlement conference. That conference, to which there has not yet been an agreement, is overseen by Settlement Master Cathy Yanni. Yanni was recommended because of her successful involvement in a variety of class actions and mass torts including transvaginal mesh and Yaz birth control claims.
Abilify is manufactured by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., which markets the drug with Bristol-Myers Squibb as an anti-psychotic drug in the United States. The FDA approved its use in 2002. It has several listed and approved uses:
- Add-on for adults with depression already taking an antidepressant.
- Bipolar I disorder for manic or mixed episodes
- Children with autistic disorder who suffer from irritability
- Agitation related to schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder
- Children with Tourette’s disorder
But doctors are free to prescribe Abilify for off-label uses as well, and many do. Doctors may use the drug to treat patients with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), for example.
Abilify is available as a tablet, disintegrating tablet, oral liquid, and injectable liquid. Doctors may prescribe the injection form of the drug to treat agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder.
How Abilify Works
Aripiprazole is included in a class of anti-psychotic drugs called partial dopamine receptor agonists. According to the FDA it works somewhat differently than other medicines in its class. Most of the others more fully block dopamine receptors in the brain, while aripiprazole only partially blocks the activity of these receptors.