Compulsive Gambling Side Effects of Abilify Result in Lawsuit Against Bristol-Myers Squibb

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals face a new product liability lawsuit over Abilify, alleging that the medication caused an Illinois woman to engage in compulsive gambling, which could have been avoided if the drug makers had adequately warned about the potential side effects of Abilify.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Angela Groshans in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on July 28, indicating that the drug makers knew about the link between Abilify and compulsive gambling, yet withheld information from consumers and the medical community that may have allowed users to avoid severe financial losses if they had recognized the potential behavior as a side effect of the medication.

Groshans indicates that she began taking Abilify in November 2013, and began to exhibit signs of compulsive gambling shortly after. She did not discover that Abilify could cause compulsive gambling side effects until 2015, by which time she had already incurred losses exceeding $50,000. The complaint indicates that Groshans stopped taking Abilify in May 2015, and the compulsive gambling problems came to an end.

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Abilify (ariprazole) is one of the top-selling brand name medications on the market in the United States, generating sales in excess of $6 billion per year, and widely used by millions of Americans for treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other major depressive disorders. It is also widely used off-label to treat irritability, aggression, mood swings and other behavior issues.

Groshans’ case joins a growing number of similar Abilify compulsive gambling lawsuits filed in recent months, following the publication of independent studies about the impact of the medication, and recent FDA warnings about the risk of impulsive behaviors while taking the drug.

The complaint filed by Groshans notes that there has been a steady rise in Abilify gambling and other compulsive behaviors reported to the FDA in recent years.

“Despite evidence that Abilify causes compulsive behaviors like pathological gambling and calls from the medical community to conduct further research and warn patients about this possible effect of Abilify, Defendants have either failed to investigate or conduct any studies on the compulsive behavior side effects of Abilify or failed to make public the results of any studies or investigations that they might have done,” the lawsuit states.

Although compulsive gambling warnings are on Abilify in a number of other countries, no information was provided to consumers or doctors in the U.S. until May 2016, when the FDA required the drug maker to update the warning label and add information about the link between Abilify and gambling problems.

The new warnings will now provide information to users of Abilify and doctors in the U.S. about the large number of adverse event reports involving uncontrollable urges to gamble, as well as engage in other potentially dangerous activities, such as uncontrollable shopping, eating or sexual activity. Consumers are encouraged to speak with their physician if they notice these impulsive behaviors, as symptoms typically stop shortly after the medication is discontinued.

In June, two plaintiffs filed a motion to transfer before the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), calling for all Abilify lawsuits to be consolidated before one judge for pretrial proceedings.

If the U.S. JPML establishes centralized pretrial proceedings, Groshans’ case and dozens of other Abilify lawsuits pending in U.S. District Courts nationwide will be transferred to one judge for coordinated discovery and a series of “bellwether” trials to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.

2 Comments

  • JudithAugust 2, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    I've been taking Cymbalta for many years. I have noticed this addictive behavior also.

  • NicoleJuly 31, 2016 at 10:42 am

    I have never taken abilify. Although I think there should be more drugs that should have a warning for individuals and their family. Last April I dropped atleast 7k in a casion in like 4 days. I do it everyday. I spent 30k once on a car that I hated. Bipolar is so terrible.

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