Court Order Helps Abilify Plaintiffs Support Claims, Obtain Documents
A recent court order makes it easier for Abilify plaintiffs to support their allegations regarding gambling addiction. U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers is presiding over the Abilify gambling multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Florida. Plaintiffs allege that the antipsychotic medication Abilify (generic: aripiprazole) caused compulsive gambling, and that Bristol-Myers Squibb failed to warn of the risks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the Abilify label in May 2016 to include information about impulse-control problems.
Parker Waichman LLP is a national personal injury law firm with decades of experience representing clients in drug injury claims. The firm continues to offer free, no-obligation legal consultations to individuals with questions about filing an Abilify gambling addiction lawsuit.
According to court records, some plaintiffs said they had trouble obtaining documents related to their case, Various entities refused to provide information without a court order. In an order issued on May 1st, Judge Rodgers established a “uniform and cost-effective” process for plaintiffs to collect the necessary documents. This includes documents from physicians, healthcare providers, pharmacies, banks, casinos, educational facilities, former and present employers, insurance providers, government agencies, and other entities.
Abilify lawsuits are filed on behalf of individuals who suffered a sudden gambling addiction after taking the antipsychotic. Many plaintiffs allege an uncontrollable need to gamble, leading to financial ruin. Suits often allege that the plaintiff had no prior history of gambling addiction, and the behavior stopped once the medication was stopped or lowered.
Abilify has also been associated with other impulse-control problems, including urges to binge eat, shop or have sex. Plaintiffs allege that the Abilify label disclosed a risk of pathological gambling in Europe and Canada long before the label was updated in the United States.
An MDL makes complex litigation more efficient. Consolidating cases brings similar lawsuits together in one court before one judge, streamlining the pretrial proceedings and eliminating duplicate discovery. The goal is to resolve the litigation quickly and efficiently.
Plaintiffs in the Abilify MDL allege that they would not have taken the antipsychotic medication if they were adequately warned of the risks. Lawsuits allege that drug makers were aware of the gambling addiction risks, but failed to notify patients or their physicians in a timely manner.
Last May, the FDA announced an Abilify label update to warn about compulsive behaviors such as uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop and have sex. Regulators commented that the label already disclosed reports of pathological gambling, but this did not accurately reflect all the impulse-control problems reported by Abilify users.
“In the majority of cases, patients with no prior history of the compulsive behaviors experienced uncontrollable urges only after starting aripiprazole treatment. Within days to weeks of reducing the dose or discontinuing aripiprazole, these uncontrollable urges stopped,” the agency noted. Regulators also stated that these impulse-control problems can affect anyone taking Abilify.
In 2012, the European Medicines Agency called for the Abilify label to be updated. The regulatory agency said the label should contain information about “undesirable effects”. The revised label mentions “reports of pathological gambling have been reported among patients prescribed Abilify, regardless of whether these patients had a prior history of gambling.”
The Abilify label was updated in Canada in 2015.
Abilify Makers Pay $19.5M to Settle Off-Label Marketing Allegations
Abilify was originally approved to treat schizophrenia. Now, its indications have been expanded to include bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder and autism spectrum disorders.
Recently, BMS reached a $19.5 million settlement with 43 states to resolve allegations of off-label marketing with Abilify. The term “off-label” means that a drug is being used in a manner not approved by the FDA. Physicians can prescribe off-label if they think it will benefit the patient.
However, it is illegal for pharmaceutical companies to marketing their drugs for unapproved uses.
“We allege that Bristol-Myers Squibb improperly marketed this drug to encourage prescriptions to children and seniors and misled the public about its safety for those populations,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in a Dec. 8 press release. “Companies cannot use deceptive practices and unfair marketing to increase their sales at the expense of patients’ health and well-being.”
According to the release, state AGs alleged that BMS marketed Abilify off-label for use in elderly patients with dementia “despite the lack of FDA approval for these uses, and without first establishing the drug’s safety and efficacy for those uses,”
Filing an Abilify Lawsuit
If you or someone you know suffered a gambling addiction or other compulsive behavioral issues after taking Abilify, you may have valuable legal rights. Our personal injury lawyers offer free, no-obligation case evaluations. For more information, fill out our online form or call 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).