Abilify Lawsuit Signed Cases
Abilify, like many drugs, is hugely popular, profitable and for many, helpful, but it also has a dark side which has harmed many people. Unlike other defective drugs whose side effects may cause cancer, strokes or disrupt how an organ functions, this drug impacts users’ behavior. Some became addicted to high risk behaviors, such as gambling, shopping and sex. These activities cost some of those impacted thousands of dollars and their jobs.
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How Abilify helps and harms users
Thomas J. Moore has done extensive research on drugs similar to Abilify and their adverse effects, reports the Daily Beast. Those effects them involve pathological gambling and hypersexuality. Moore is a senior scientist at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit. Moore reviewed 1,580 cases over a decade that included several impulsive behaviors such as pathological gambling, excessive sexual activity, and compulsive shopping. In a 2014 paper he found, “the associations were significant, the magnitude of the effects was large, and the effects were seen for all 6 dopamine receptor agonist drugs.”
Dopamine receptors are a class or type of receptors (chemical structures, composed of protein, that receive and transmit signals that may be integrated into biological systems) found in the central nervous system as well as other key points near nerve endings in various organs. The receptors are critical to the function of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which has a significant effect on the function of the nervous system concerning memory, general mood, cognition, reward-seeking behaviors and addiction. When the supply of dopamine to the receptors is limited, a person may experience difficulty concentrating, become easily irritated, and possibly become severely depressed.
Because dopamine receptors are so important for the function of the brain and the emotions, the presence of some sort of dopamine receptor agonist (a substance that acts like another substance and stimulates an action) can have a significant effect on an individual’s ability to function in social situations. Agonists combine with receptors to promote elevated function of those receptors. This means someone who is currently dealing with unusual periods of irritation or depression may find that taking a dopamine agonist will alleviate those symptoms and restore a more balanced frame of mind.
Compulsive behavior becomes the norm
Moore states Abilify can trigger a pathological urge to gamble constantly, sometimes among persons with no prior interest, costing hundreds or thousands of dollars a week. A warning that the drug could result in compulsive gambling was included in the drug’s packaging in 2012 in Europe, the warning came with the drug in Canada in 2015 and a similar warning was issued in the US in 2016.
There are many accounts of how the drug impacted some users’ behavior:
- Denise Miley claims she became a compulsive gambler virtually overnight. She started using Abilify for depression and anxiety in December 2014. Soon after she would leave work early, miss her kids’ sporting events and not spend time with friends so she could go to a casino and gamble. She used $50,000 from her family’s bank accounts and retirement funds to support her habit in a six month period. Her interest in gambling ended when she stopped using the drug.
- A married woman in a letter to her attorney stated she became addicted to sex and shopping while on Abilify. She wrote she became obsessed with sexual fantasies and with taking pictures of myself, which she sent to others. She was sexting several men to the point that her boss took notice and her husband caught on. She went on shopping splurges, buying cars and building an addition onto their garage with borrowed money. She and her husband later filed for bankruptcy. Her husband saw an Abilify ad that warned of such behaviors as a side effect and she stopped using the drug.
Bristol-Myers Squibb paid more than $515 million to settle federal charges that it illegally marketing Abilify for pediatric use and to treat dementia-related psychosis—both off-label uses. In 2016, the company reached a $19.5 million settlement with 42 states and the District of Columbia for illegally marketing Abilify for pediatric use and elderly patients with dementia.
There’s currently a warning on Abilify packaging concerning the fact the drug isn’t approved for use by those suffering from dementia and its use increases the risk of suicide. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. reached a global settlement with plaintiffs who sued the companies claiming they failed to warn Abilify users could cause uncontrollable compulsive behavior.
The settlement agreement, reached in February 2019 and disclosed in an order by federal judge overseeing the Abilify multidistrict litigation (MDL) established in 2016, is confidential and no further details on its terms were available. As of this year 2,425 cases were part of this MDL. Cases not part of it are not included in the settlement.
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