The lawsuit was filed by Erma J. H., a woman from California who started taking Abilify in January 2006. She began compulsively gambling and lost over $10,000 as a result of her addiction. She stopped gambling soon after discontinuing Abilify in June 2006.
Abilify (aripiprazole) is an anti-psychotic medication that works by balancing the brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are part of the brain’s “reward system,” reinforcing pleasurable activities and producing cravings to do the activity again.
Patients on Abilify may feel intense pleasure and equally intense cravings to gamble, eat, shop, have sex, or drink alcohol. This can lead to uncontrollable urges and addiction.
Furthermore, patients on Abilify may not realize their medication is to blame, or they may be too embarrassed to tell their doctor. The longer the behaviors go undiagnosed, the higher the risk of consequences.
In November 2012, European drug regulators asked Bristol-Myers Squibb to add a warning about “pathological gambling” to the label on Abilify. Canada required similar warnings in November 2015.
In the United States, the word “gambling” was not even on the label for Abilify until January 2016. The label was strengthened in May 2016 after the FDA warned about “uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex,” urging doctors to “closely monitor” patients and make “caregivers aware of the risk of these uncontrollable urges.”
According to the lawsuit:
Defendants wrongfully and unjustly profited at the expense of patient safety and full disclosure by failing to include language about gambling — despite opportunities and a duty to do so.”
Lawyers say drug-makers “made significantly more revenue from Abilify sales in the United States compared to Europe” as a result of failing to warn about the risk of gambling addiction from Abilify.
The lawsuit was filed on September 1, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California — Case No. 2:16-cv-06606.
It will be centralized with over 175 other Abilify lawsuits against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. in one federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2734) — In RE: Abilify Products Liability Litigation.
The plaintiff is represented by attorneys Ruth Rizkalla, Michael Louis Kelly, and Behram V. Parekh of the law firm Kirtland & Packard LLP in El Segundo, California.