Abilify is an anti-psychotic medication that, like the Parkinson drug Miraplex in 2008, acts to stimulate the dopamine receptors in the brain, which in turn causes the patient to risk a compulsive gambling addiction and even type-2 diabetes in children. Despite multiple studies, the drug manufacturer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, downplayed and failed to inform customers about the risks. Now, they are facing lawsuits brought forth by Abilify users who have lost thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of dollars from compulsive gambling allegedly caused by Abilify usage.
Abilify is said to cause gambling and other addictive or compulsive behaviors in patients because of its dopamine agonist classification. Abilify was prescribed for patients showing symptoms of autism, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s disorder, and similar mental health conditions. It alters the activity of natural substances in the brain, specifically dopamine, which in several studies dating back to 2005 can cause the person taking it to start compulsive gambling, binge eating, and even experience uncontrollable sexual urges.
Between 2002 and 2016, the FDA received 184 reports of compulsive behaviors that the patient was unaware of or unable to control related to gambling, eating disorders and sex. Several studies dating back to 2005 matched the complaints. In 2008, the Miraplex drug manufacturers settled for 8.2 million dollars in a single lawsuit, which claimed that the drug manufacturer downplayed the risks and failed to inform their patients of the danger. Months later, around 250 other lawsuits were consolidated and Miraplex settled for an undisclosed amount.
The FDA first issued strong warnings about Abilify in early 2016. They required Abilify to put a stronger warning label on the product explaining the risks of compulsive behavior, even among individuals with no history of that kind of behavior. Many patients bringing the suit against Abilify stated that prior to taking it, they had no such compulsive behavior issues, and that the issues ceased after they stopped taking the drug.
Many of those behaviors were financially devastating. They would become preoccupied or even obsessed with gambling, cutting deeply into savings and causing them to become hundreds or thousands of dollars in debt. Many also found their relationships with friends, families, and co-workers to be severely harmed as their gambling addiction worsened.
Plaintiffs brought several lawsuits (using law firms like Meds Lawsuit) against Bristol-Myers Squibb in response to developing those compulsive disorders. In 2016, judges centralized the claims into the Multi-District Litigation No. 2734. Some law firms are still taking individual claims in addition to the class action litigation. Many people who believe they too were affected by the Abilify situation may be able to win compensation for their losses while taking the drug.
Now that the risks are better known, doctors are encouraged to speak with their patients who are on Abilify, so the conditions can be managed before they become a serious problem. For many years, Bristol-Myers Squibb was alleged to have kept the risks of Abilify quiet, and doctors and patients were left unaware of the issue. Many people are now seeking compensation for the gambling and other compulsive behavior issues.