Abilify is a drug at the center of both legal actions and class action lawsuits due to the associated side effects and dangers of taking the medication. The medication hit the market in 2002 and is in a class of drugs referred to as atypical antipsychotics and Abilify is used to treat schizophrenia.

The Start of Problems with Abilify

The FDA approved Abilify under its pharmaceutical name aripiprazole for the treatment of schizophrenia November 15, 2002. This would be a prescription medication the FDA would issue several warnings about beginning with the increased risk of potential cardiac related issues. Then studies of this medication would show that Abilify increases the propensity of compulsive behaviors and loss of impulse control.

The medical information that explains why the prescription drug has these possible side effects is that Abilify increases the levels of dopamine. This is a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system that has an active role in the pleasure centers in the brain. Taking this drug that stimulates the dopamine levels is the cause of the compulsive behavior. This behavior characteristic did show up in clinical trials predominantly as hyper-sexuality. Further proof of this fact is when patients behaving compulsively they stop taking the medication their behavior returns to normal.

Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Responsibility

Drug companies are obligated by law to inform the public of harmful side effects of the drugs they manufacture that are approved and put on the market. In this case, the manufacturer of Abilify Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and the marketer Bristol-Myers Squibb are alleged to be negligent in designing, creating and manufacturing a drug that is defective. It is also alleged the companies were aware of the defect that resulted in compulsive behavior and failed to adequately warn the public of the risks.

Agencies Get Involved

In the United States, Abilify’s warning and prescribing information did not address gambling and compulsive behaviors as a possible side effect until May 2016. Even though there were ongoing complaints.

American claims over the drug were not the only complaints. In 2012 the potential dangers of using the drug gained more attention with the European Medicines Agency’s demand for new warning labels. The agency wanted the new warning to address pathological gambling. This came after a marketing study that showed 19 cases of pathological gambling by people using the prescription drug Abilify.

Canada had made the same demand for an updated warning label. Health Canada went further and in a safety review, the data showed that 14 of 18 gambling cases and 5 of 6 hypersexual cases they studied were either resolved or highly improved of the compulsive behaviors when the study participants stopped taking Abilify.

The Abilify Lawsuits

After the drug was on the market and complaints began to mount lawsuits were filed in 42 states and the District of Columbia, along with the U.S. Justice Department. These lawsuits were filed on the basis of the manufacturer and marketer’s failure to warn and individual user’s claims of compulsive gambling, hypersexual behavior, and binge eating.

The lawsuits may include compensation for financial and personal losses due to the compulsive behavior caused by the drug or due to the increased risk of cardiac arrest. The lawsuit or class action suit may include punitive damages for failure to warn. The compensation damages may include:

  • Loss of financial stability and gambling losses
  • Physical injury
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of consortium


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