Abilify (aripiprazole) is primarily used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It balances dopamine and serotonin, two chemicals in the brain that have a big influence on emotions and behaviors.
There are also many “off-label” uses for Abilify that are not specifically approved by the FDA because they were not studied in clinical trials.
For example, Abilify is sometimes prescribed to help people with anxiety calm down. Abilify has also been investigated for the treatment of insomnia, eating disorders, ADHD, substance abuse, dementia, and more.
There is some research into the sedative effects of Abilify, but the results are inconclusive. Insomnia and anxiety can be very serious conditions, but there are equally serious safety concerns about using a powerful antipsychotic drug like Abilify — even at low doses — for mental health conditions other than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
One safety concern is gambling addiction. Abilify activates the “reward system” in the brain during fun activities, which produces strong urges to do the activity again. These behaviors can quickly spiral out of control.
There are reports of people who never had a problem with gambling until they started taking Abilify. By the time they realized that Abilify was to blame for their gambling habit, they had already lost thousands of dollars or stolen money to fund their addiction.
Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals are currently facing about 365 Abilify lawsuits in the federal court system. Lawyers accuse the drug-makers of failing to provide people in the United States with adequate warnings about gambling.
The drug-makers knew about the risk for years before the U.S. label was updated. Warning labels about “pathological gambling” were added to Abilify’s label in Europe in November 2012, and in Canada in November 2015. It was not until May 2016 that patients in the U.S. were informed of the risk — and only after the FDA ordered drug-makers to strengthen the label.
Lawyers are now in the process of evaluating claims from victims, collecting evidence, and expert testimony relating to severe gambling addictions from Abilify.
Last week, U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers indicated that the 1st trials may be delayed from their originally scheduled dates in June 2018 because the “ambitious” discovery schedule may not be possible for lawyers.
On September 29, Judge Rodgers proposed several alternative trial dates for Abilify lawsuits, with the 1st trial between June 2018 and August 2018, and a 2nd trial between July 2018 and October 2018.