Former Abilify Patients Discuss How the Anti-Depression Drug Caused Compulsive Gambling

Former Abilify Patients Discuss How the Anti-Depression Drug Caused Compulsive Gambling
Hundreds of Abilify lawsuits center around problem gambling, drug use, shopping addiction, and binge eating.

Former Abilify users have filed hundreds of lawsuits against its prescription drug manufacturers, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, claiming the anti-psychotic drugs causes compulsive behavior. In some cases, some users of the drug claimed their usage led to problem gambling.

Abilify is a prescription drug that was used for years to treat people with bipolar disorder and depression. But those people believe the Food and Drug Administration was slow in warning users of potential side effects, like previously nonexistent compulsions.

FDA Warning Years Too Late for Many

Gary Wilson is a Minnesota-based attorney with Abilify lawsuit clients across the United States. Mr. Wilson noted that the European Union issued a warning in 2012, four years before the FDA chose to warn the American public.

Wilson said the FDA let down the American people, because it was too cautious in issuing its public warning. He said, “If it ruins your life. That’s a pretty bad side effect. That is the tragedy here. The American patients did not learn about the connection between gambling and compulsivity until almost four years after the European patients did.

One Woman’s Abilify Horror Story

Fox31 Problem Solvers recently talked to one anomymous Abilify patient who had a particularly dramatic horror stories. She began taking the drug for depression in 2008, but its use led to gambling addiction. The woman said she had lived in Las Vegas since 1999, but never had an impulse to gamble until she started taking the drug.

The woman told the Fox31 News crew that her gambling habit caused her to miss two flights, which cost her a well-paying job. She said, “I had to reschedule the first flight I missed and then I went back to the machine waiting for the second flight and I ended up missing that as well.

Lost over $1 Million via Compulsive Gambling

Over a 5-year period, the woman estimates that she lost between $1 million and $2 million gambling at Las Vegas casinos. Eventually, her addiction was so bad that she moved in with her parents. Her compulsive gambling continued and her parents asked her to move out.

Mike McDivitt’s Abilify Cases

Mike McDivitt, a Las Vegas area lawyer, is the woman’s attorney. He directly blames Abilify’s makers for the woman’s situation. He said of people who took Abilify, “Individuals have uncontrollable urges.

McDivitt represents over 200 former Abilify takers who are suing Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. He claims that the manufacturers knew the drug had issues, but declined to put warning labels on prescription bottles. McDivitt said, “If you don’t put a warning label, the doctors are more inclined to prescribe it.”

Dopamine Receptors in the Brain

According to the lawyer, Abilify works on dopamine receptors, which control the pleasure center of the brain. People who take the drug crave pleasure, so they become addiction to various pleasure-seeking activities, including shopping, overeating, hyper-sexuality, and gambling.

Gambling, Eating Disorder, and Prostitution

The woman interviewed by Fox31 said that Abilify led her into problem gambling, overeating, and hyper-sexuality. She said, “I gained about 70 pounds and then lost it subsequently after stopping Abilify. Something I’m ashamed of and embarrassed by.”

She said that she only got better in 2012, when she moved to Colorado. Her Colorado doctor refused to prescribe Abilify, and her symptoms stopped. Still, the anonymous former compulsive gambler said it wasn’t until 2016 that she put together the pieces of the puzzle and realized Abilify was to blame for her compulsions from 2008-2012.

That recognition came only after the FDA issued a warning to the general public. The FDA released a statement which gave a “warning that compulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex have been reported with the use of the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole (Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Aristada, and generics). These uncontrollable urges were reported to have stopped when the medicine was discontinued or the dose was reduced.”

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