September 27, 2016 — Bristol-Myers Squibb has been sued by a man who lost $375,000 after compulsively gambling while taking Abilify.
The lawsuit (PDF) was filed in Tennessee by Michael Runninghorse. He began compulsively gambling soon after starting Abilify in January 2007. His habits stopped when he discontinued Abilify in June 2015.
He claims the Bristol-Myers Squibb knew about the risk but waited years to issue warnings in the United States, which may have delayed his diagnosis.
In the European Union, warnings about pathological gambling were added to the label on Abilify in November 2012. In Canada, warnings were added in November 2015.
In the United States, the label was not updated until May 2016, when the FDA required warnings about compulsive gambling, eating, shopping, and sex. According to the lawsuit:
“The labeling for Abilify in the United States did not adequately warn about the risk of compulsive gambling and contained no mention that pathological gambling had been reported in patients prescribed Abilify.”
Bristol-Myers Squibb is facing dozens of lawsuits from people with similar stories. On September 29, federal judges will meet to decide whether to centralize the cases in a Multi-District Litigation (MDL).
Abilify (aripiprazole) is an antipsychotic drug that treats mental illness by balancing levels of dopamine in the brain. This activates the “reward system” during pleasurable activities, producing cravings to do it again. Other drugs in the dopamine agonist class, such as Parkinson’s disease medications, were linked to gambling addiction in 2003.
The lawsuit was filed on September 21, 2016 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee — In Re: Michael Runninghorse v. Bristol-Myers Squibb, Otsuka Pharmaceutical — Case No. 1:16-cv-00384.