A federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) has been established for lawsuits alleging that the antipsychotic drug Abilify caused compulsive behaviors, such as gambling. Plaintiffs allege that drug makers Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Bristol-Myers Squibb knew about these risks but failed to inform patients or their doctors. The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has centralized the litigation to Florida.
The JPML establishes an MDL when there are a number of lawsuits with the same basic allegations. In this case, plaintiffs similarly allege that Abilify caused compulsive behaviors and that drug makers failed to disclose this information. MDLs are created to make complex litigation more efficient. By centralizing similar lawsuits together, parties can avoid duplicate discovery, save resources and overall move the litigation along quicker.
Judge Margaret C. Rodgers will be presiding over the MDL in Florida. According to court documents, 22 lawsuits will be transferred there and there are 20 more actions pending across the country.
Abilify, known generically as aripiprazole, is used to treat patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and Tourette’s syndrome.
In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) updated the warning label on Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Aristada and generic aripiprazole to include information about compulsive behavior, including uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop and have sex. According to the FDA announcement, these behaviors generally stopped once the drug was discontinued or the dosage was lowered.
Abilify already had pathological gambling listed as a possible side effect, but the FDA said that this does not encompass all the compulsive behaviors reported. The agency updated the label to include impulse-control problems other than gambling. According to the alert, the FDA received 167 reports of impulse-control problems associated with the use of Abilify. These reports were documented in both adults and children. “In the majority of cases, patients with no prior history of the compulsive behaviors experienced uncontrollable urges only after starting aripiprazole treatment. Within days to weeks of reducing the dose or discontinuing aripiprazole, these uncontrollable urges stopped.” The agency said.