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Coordination of Abilify Lawsuits Moves Forward

scales and gavelCoordination of Abilify lawsuits continues to progress as the judge overseeing the centralization has now made plans to streamline the filing process. Now, plaintiffs may use a Short Form Complaint to file their lawsuits directly into the multidistrict litigation in Florida, saving time and transfers from other courts across the country. With many cases expected to be added to this MDL in the future, this is an important step in making the legal process more convenient for all parties involved.

Abilify lawsuits were coordinated into an MDL under the order of the U.S. Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation signed in October of this year. The MDL centralizes all cases filed in federal court that contain similar allegations and statements of fact, for the purpose of streamlining early trial proceedings when many different lawsuits are involved. This MDL was assigned to U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida under Judge M. Casey Rodgers.

MDL expected to grow

Currently, there are about two dozen cases included in the Abilify MDL. However, many expect that number to grow exponentially in light of evidence, including an FDA safety communication, that links Abilify use to compulsive behaviors like gambling and sexual activity. Now, those that file a complaint against Abilify manufacturers Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals will be able to use the much simpler Short Form Complaint, which adopts some specific allegations from the Master Long Form Complaint that was established by the court.

The Master Long Form Complaint and Short Form Complaint were approved by Judge Rodgers in an order dated November 30. The day prior, Judge Rodgers also issued an order scheduling a Science Day that will educate the court on some of the underlying facts regarding these cases. This meeting will not serve to test any of the evidence, but simply bring the court up to speed on the medical facts needed to oversee the litigation.

What is Abilify?

Abilify is an antipsychotic medication that falls under the category of dopamine receptor agonist drugs. This particular drug has been approved by the FDA to treat a variety of conditions, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and symptoms related to Tourette’s syndrome and autism. The drug can also be used in combination with antidepressants to treat symptoms of depression. Specifically, Abilify is used to stabilize mood as well as decrease the incidence of hallucinations or tics associated with disorders like Tourette’s syndrome.

Abilify’s use has continued to expand, making it one of the top-selling drugs for Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka in recent years. Unfortunately, the increase in Abilify use has also highlighted some of the side effects of the drug, particularly compulsive behaviors like gambling, sex and shopping. For those that have experienced the side effects, the consequences can be financially and emotionally devastating.

Some that have suffered from compulsive gambling as a result of Abilfy use have met with severe financial setbacks and even relationship issues as a result of their compulsive behavior. The FDA reports that the majority of compulsive behaviors stopped when users went off of the medication, suggesting a direct correlation between the drug and the behavior.

Abilify and compulsive behavior

A study that was published in the December 2014 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine found that dopamine receptor agonist drugs like Abilify were directly related to specific impulse control behaviors. Researchers in that study recommended that the FDA require more prominent warnings on product packaging to alert the medical community and the general public about the risks linked to these drugs. In May of this year, the FDA did indeed issue a safety communication alerting medical providers and patients about the potential for developing compulsive behaviors such as gambling, sexual activity, shopping and eating.

As more Abilify users begin to file lawsuits against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka, the centralization of the cases promises to streamline the legal proceedings and make the early trial process more convenient for everyone involved. As it progresses, it will also provide insight into how juries may view evidence and testimony in early trials and those to come in the future.

  1. JAMA Internal Medicine, Reports of Pathological Gambling, Hypersexuality, and Compulsive Shopping Associated with Dopamine Receptor Agonist Drugs,

  2. FDA, Aripiprazole (Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Aristada), Drug Safety Communication: FDA Warns about New Impulse Control Problems,

  3. Time, FDA Warns Antipsychotic Drug can Cause Compulsive Sex and Gambling,

  4. U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, Transfer Order for MDL 2734,