There are many reports of people whose lives were devastated by Abilify. For example, a lawsuit was filed last September by a man from Tennessee who lost $375,000 as a result of a gambling addiction he developed in 2007, shortly after he started taking Abilify.
His gambling problems ended after he stopped taking Abilify in 2015. He says his doctors might have helped him sooner if they had been aware of the risk of gambling side effects.
In the United States, the label on Abilify was not updated to include warnings about “pathological gambling” until May 2016. In the European Union, warnings about pathological gambling were added to the label in November 2012, and in Canada in November 2015.
Lawsuits accuse drug-makers of downplaying the risks of Abilify, putting profits above public safety. In 2014 alone, Abilify brought in more than $7 billion for Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Lawyers also say the drug-makers were fully aware of the link between Abilify and impulse-control disorders, yet failed to warn patients and doctors in the U.S. about the risk for several years.
Abilify is a powerful anti-psychotic that treats severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia by changing brain chemistry — specifically chemicals in the brain’s “reward system,” that reinforce pleasurable activities and create powerful cravings to do the activity again.
Doctors are now seeing patients who never gambled a day in their life, but within weeks of starting Abilify they became compulsive gamblers.
As early as 2011, doctors were reporting Abilify patients who became criminals in order to obtain the funds necessary to gamble. Other reports describe patients who spent all of their money, or experienced “strong urges to gamble in the form of a euphoric feeling when thinking about gambling.”
The lawsuits are currently centralized in a federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2734) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida under Judge M. Casey Rodgers.