June 29, 2016 — Lawyers for drug-makers and people who experienced compulsive gambling on Abilify have asked judges to centralize dozens of lawsuits in one federal court.
On June 24, they filed a motion (PDF) to create a Multi-District Litigation (MDL) and transfer 26 lawsuits pending in 12 different courts into the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida under Judge M. Casey Rodgers.
They say hundreds of cases will likely be filed by people who used Abilify and experienced compulsive behaviors.
The manufacturers of Abilify — Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. — support centralizing the lawsuits because the discovery process has just begun and no cases have gone to trial. According to the motion:
“Failing to transfer would force all the parties to take repetitive and/or redundant depositions and other pretrial discovery, as well as leading to inconsistent and conflicting rulings.”
On May 3, the FDA published a Safety Communication to warn about impulse-control problems in patients on Abilify. The agency updated the label with new warnings about “compulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex.”
Abilify is a powerful anti-psychotic drug that treats mental illnesses by influencing levels of dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals are involved in the brain’s “reward” system, producing feelings of pleasure and motivation that reinforce behaviors. Over time, people can become addicted to behaviors like gambling.