Medical studies have linked Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company’s top-selling antipsychotic drug, Abilify, to binge eating, pathological gambling and other compulsive behaviors, and individuals who experienced these unexpected urges while taking Abilify are now bringing legal claims against the drug makers. If you believe you have been adversely affected by compulsive gambling or another alleged side effect of Abilify, consult a knowledgeable product liability lawyer today for legal help. You may have grounds to file an Abilify lawsuit against Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb, in order to seek fair and timely reimbursement for your gambling losses, psychological distress, and other related damages.
Abilify and other atypical antipsychotic drugs that work by altering the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain can have a harmful effect on the thoughts and actions of users, possibly resulting in unexpected compulsive behaviors, like pathological gambling, compulsive shopping, binge eating and even suicidal thoughts. Some possible alternative treatments for depression, schizophrenia and other mental health disorders may include:
Abilify (aripiprazole) is a best-selling antipsychotic drug prescribed to nearly one million Americans every year as a treatment for major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other serious mental illness. Abilify is categorized as an atypical antipsychotic, and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2002, as a treatment for schizophrenia. Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company originally developed the antipsychotic drug, but the drug maker eventually partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb to market Abilify. In addition to advertising the drug as a standalone treatment for certain mental health issues, Abilify is also marketed by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company and Bristol-Myers Squibb as an add-on treatment to other antidepressant medications.
While Abilify can be effective at helping to control symptoms of certain mental health disorders, the prescription antipsychotic drug has also been linked to a number of serious side effects that patients may not expect, including:
Abilify currently carries a black box warning from the FDA warning users about the potential for side effects of Abilify to cause suicidal thoughts in young adults and death in older patients.
These serious side effects are occurring in Abilify users who have no history of these problems prior to taking the medication, and in some cases, the compulsive behavior is so addictive that the individual requires professional help to curb the urges. While doctors aren’t exactly sure how Abilify works, they believe the medication, sometimes referred to as a “stabilizer,” acts on the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Under normal circumstances, people experience a “high,” or a feeling of pleasure, when the dopamine system is stimulated in response to a particular activity, but in people with certain mental health disorders, these systems are stimulated either excessively or not enough.
By acting on receptors in the brain that regulate mood and behavior, Abilify can increase or decrease serotonin or dopamine, thereby correcting any imbalances. However, researchers believe that Abilify may actually over-stimulate dopamine reward receptors in the brain, called dopamine 3 (D3) receptors, which can trigger compulsive behavior like pathological gambling and extreme overeating. According to one Abilify lawsuit filed in 2016, “an FDA report showed that Abilify accounted for at least fifty-four reports of compulsive or impulsive behavior problems, including thirty reports of compulsive gambling, twelve reports of impulsive behavior, nine reports of hypersexuality, and three reports of compulsive shopping.”
September 2007 – Bristol-Myers Squibb agrees to pay $515 million to resolve federal charges against the company for illegally marketing Abilify to nursing homes, despite research showing the drug may cause death in elderly individuals with dementia.
March 2008 – Otsuka agrees to pay more than $4 million to resolve allegations of off-label marketing for its antipsychotic Abilify.
August 2014 – A 21-year-old woman files an Abilify lawsuit alleging that she developed diabetes at the age of 15, due to side effects of the antipsychotic drug.
September 2015 – A federal judge allows a lawsuit alleging tardive dyskinesia side effects from Abilify to move forward in Louisiana.
January 2016 – The antipsychotic drug Abilify caused a man to develop a compulsive gambling habit that cost him more than $75,000, according to a product liability lawsuit brought in Bergen County Court in New Jersey.
January 2016 – Two Abilify lawsuits are filed in Tampa Federal Court involving side effects from the antipsychotic drug.
January 2016 – A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana alleges that the plaintiff suffered gambling losses in excess of $45,000 after beginning Abilify treatment.
January 2016 – Otsuka and Bristol-Myers withheld information from the public about the risk of pathological gambling side effects from Abilify, a product liability lawsuit in Missouri alleges.
April 2016 – Two complaints brought in Pennsylvania and California courts allege Abilify impulsivity problems that resulted in considerable gambling losses.
May 2016 – Lawsuits filed over gambling side effects from Abilify are consolidated for coordinated pretrial proceedings in New Jersey.
October 2012 – The European Medicines Agency requires that Otsuka and Bristol-Myers warn patients and doctors in Europe about the potential for Abilify to cause pathological gambling side effects.
August 2013 – The Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services launches an investigation into the prescription of antipsychotic drugs like Abilify to children.
2014 – At least 29 reports of compulsive gambling problems from Abilify are submitted to the FDA’s Adverse Event Reporting System.
November 2015 – Drug regulators in Canada warn that there is “a link between use the of aripiprazole [Abilify] and a possible risk of pathological gambling or hypersexuality.”
May 2016 – The FDA issues a drug safety communication urging patients and doctors to watch out for symptoms of “uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex” following use of aripiprazole-containing drugs, like Abilify.
October 2008 – Research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology outlines a case study involving a patient who developed symptoms of sex addiction after taking Abilify for schizophrenia.
March 2010 – A case study published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychology describes a woman with schizophrenia who took Abilify, ended up gambling away thousands of dollars, and gained nearly 20 pounds in six months due to binge eating side effects.
February 2011 – Researchers involved in an Abilify study published in Current Drug Safety recommend “consideration with increased attention on the appearance of pathological gambling symptoms among patients on aripiprazole.”
2011 – A case study finds evidence of pathological gambling side effects in Abilify users with schizophrenia who had no history of compulsive gambling habits prior to taking the drug.
July 2011 – Research conducted by the National Problem Gambling Clinic and published in the The British Journal of Psychiatry establishes a relationship between Abilify use and the drive to gamble in some patients.
September 2012 – The New York Times publishes an article calling for caution in regards to the prescription and use of antipsychotic medications like Abilify.
March 2014 – A French study outlining eight case reports involving pathological gambling side effects allegedly linked to Abilify treatment is published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
December 2014 – JAMA Internal Medicine publishes a study finding a significant link between dopamine receptor agonists like Abilify and serious impulsive control disorders.
March 2016 – A study published in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry concludes that children taking Abilify, Risperdal, Zyprexa and other popular antipsychotic drugs may face an increased risk of childhood diabetes.
Abilify is one of the top-grossing and best-selling drugs in the world, generating about $6.8 billion in sales for Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb between April 2013 and March 2014. Product liability lawsuits brought against Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company and Bristol-Myers Squibb accuse the drug makers of:
The compulsive gambling individuals taking the antipsychotic Abilify may experience drives them to gamble by any means necessary, even if they can’t afford it, and sometimes results in them gambling with credit cards or borrowed money just to feed the urge. In severe instances, the individual may feel like he or she needs to gamble to continue living, and while this particular side effect may not cause physical injury, it can easily lead to psychological harm and ruin victims’ lives. Former Abilify users who are now facing crippling debt due to compulsive gambling from Abilify may be entitled to financial compensation to help cover the cost of their medical expenses, severe emotional injuries, loss of quality of life and gambling debts. Contact an experienced Abilify attorney today to discuss your legal options.