New Jersey Abilify Lawsuit One of Many Moved to Northern Florida Pretrial Hearings
Several legal cases involving the drug Abilify have been centralized in pretrial proceedings by a panel of judges. One of those cases involves a New Jersey man who claims he lost $75,000 gambling while taking Abilify, which he says gave him the urge to gamble.
The man claimed he took Abilify to deal with neurological issues, but the drug caused him to engage in compulsive gambling. When he stopped taking the drug, the compulsions ended, but he was left with large gambling debts.
How Does Abilify Work?
Abilify works on the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which are said to be “the brain’s natural reward system”. Though this method can be used to treat pathological psychiatric symptoms, overstimulation of the neurotransmitter reward system might lead to side effects, like gambling addiction, binge eating, and erotophilia.
FDA Findings on Abilify and Compulsive Behavior
In May 2016, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) determined that, in rare cases, Abilify has been known to cause “compulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop and have sex.”
The New Jersey gambling case is one of 184 cases (167 in the US) which the FDA says involves a link between Abilify and impulse control problems. Of those case, the FDA says 164 involve problem gambling.
Pathological Gambling in 164 Cases
The FDA report on Abilify said, “Pathological gambling was the most common (164 cases) [effect], but other compulsive behaviors including compulsive eating, spending or shopping, and sexual behaviors were also reported.”
Though 184 cases of impulse control issues is rare, though they can be devastating to a life when it does happen. The FDA report concluded, “These impulse-control problems are rare, but they may result in harm to the patient and others if not recognized.”
Investigation into Aripiprazole (Abilify)
Abilify’s scientific name is aripiprazole. It has been used to treat conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and depression. Over a 13-year period, it was given to over 24 million patients. It has generated $6.4 billion in revenues for the manufacturers involved.
Thus, the issue is to determine whether Abilify was “defectively designed or manufactured“.
The court also wants to determine whether manufacturers knew about the defect in aripiprazole, and whether they covered up this fact. The three manufacturers are Bristol-Myers Squibb Co., Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc., and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd.
Pretrial Hearings in Abilify Lawsuits
Pretrial for those cases therefore has been centralized and place in a court in the Northern District of Florida. Northern District of Florida Chief Judge M. Casey Rodgers is set to preside over the case.
The Judicial Panel that decided on Northern Florida said it wanted to find a judge with “the necessary judicial resources and expertise to efficiently manage this litigation.”
In selecting Judge Casey Rodgers, the panel said it was “selecting a jurist with the willingness and ability to handle this litigation.”
New Jersey Abilify Case
In May 2016, a plaintiff named Jonathan Y. filed a case in New Jersey claiming that Abilify caused his problem gambling. Jonathan Y. said he began taking the Abilify in December 2010.
The plaintiff said that the time period he used Abilify corresponds with his problem gambling habit. He continued to take the drug until August 2013, when his gambling addiction stopped.
The New Jersey filing did not mention what condition the man had which caused him to take Abilify. Since 2002, the drug has been prescribed as a treatment for schizoprenia, as well as manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder. In children, Abilify has been used to treat Tourette’s Syndrome and autism.
Abilify Court Cases: Conclusion
It is hard to speculate about the outcome of lawsuits, especially when defendants who made billions of dollars from the sale of a product can hire the best lawyers. Given the FDA’s findings and the high number of plaintiffs in one case, it is hard to see the judge overlooking the many connectors. While Jonathan Y. might not get the payout he wants, it is hard to see how he would not win some judgment in his lawsuit.
Side Effects of Pharmeceuticals
Virtually any drug or pharmeceutical ingested by human beings are going to have side effects. Pfizer’s anti-smoking drug, Chantix, has shown evidence of causing psychosis in a small number of its users.
While the side effects of most pills taken are not nearly as tragic, even the seemingly “harmless” drugs often have long term side effects. Aleve has been shown to cause a heightened risk of stroke in those who take them every day over many years, while other seemingly harmless painkillers are known to have side effects. It is easy to ask people to avoid taking drugs when it might ease physical or psychological pain, but a person should always consider the side effects before making a decision.
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