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A global settlement has been reached to resolve most Abilify gambling lawsuits pending in the federal court system, according to a recent order that directed all plaintiff’s counsel to appear for a case management conference on Wednesday.
There are currently more than 2,000 product liability claims pending in the federal court system against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, each raising similar allegations that the drug makers failed to adequately warn users and the medical community about the side effects of Abilify, which may cause users to experience sudden and uncontrollable urges to gamble or engage in other impulsive behaviors.
Plaintiffs each maintain that they could have avoided devastating financial losses and damage to their families if information had been provided about the link between Abilify and gambling addictions, which lawsuits typically indicate emerged shortly after starting use of the drug or changing dosage.
Last year a series of three trials were scheduled, but the parties settled those Abilify cases weeks before they were set to go before juries. After the parties failed to negotiate a global Abilify settlement to resolve all claims, a series of six cases were “fast tracked” for new trial dates, which were expected to begin this summer.
In an order (PDF) issued on February 15, the Court scheduled an immediate case management conference for this week, after the parties indicated that a global settlement has now been reached. Terms of the deal or which cases may be eligible for compensation have not been disclosed, but are likely to be reviewed with lawyers representing individuals who filed a case at the meeting on Wednesday.
The same day the conference was scheduled, the drug makers filed a motion (PDF), calling for the Court to require any plaintiffs’ counsel who reject the settlement to provide additional information to certify that claims were thoroughly reviewed. The defendants pointed to a high dropout rate for cases that came under closer scrutiny during the litigation process, indicating that plaintiffs counsel should be required to provide additional information and certify that they have a good faith and reasonable basis to proceed with the case.
“The Court has witnessed in this litigation a consistent pattern of inadequate vetting of cases, dismissal of cases following initiation of discovery, and repeated failures of Plaintiffs to properly and adequately complete profile forms,” the brief states. “Particularly now that the parties have reached a settlement in principle, it is an appropriate procedural time for the Court to require any Plaintiffs’ counsel who wish to proceed with litigation to certify their thorough and complete review of their cases.”
If individual plaintiffs reject the Abilify settlement offer, it is likely that cases will be remanded back to U.S. District courts nationwide for individual trial dates in the future.