Abilify and Gambling Addiction
Have you or a loved one ever used Abilify? Did you or a loved one develop a gambling addiction while using this medication? If so, you may be entitled to financial compensation.
What is Abilify?
Abilify (aripiprazole) is an atypical anti-psychotic medication of the drug class known as partial dopamine receptor agonists. It is used to treat various mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, major depression, mood swings, irritability, aggression, schizophrenia and other behavior issues.
The drug works by affecting dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate feelings of motivation and pleasure. It’s typically “activated” by the body’s “reward system” in ways that reinforce certain behaviors.
Introduced to the market in 2002 and made by Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), it was the company’s best selling drug in 2013:
- Abilify has generated $2.3 billion in sales for Bristol-Myers Squibb
- In April to June 2014, Abilify generated $417 million in sales in the United States alone.
- Worldwide sales during the second quarter of 2015 were $555 million.
- Abilify sales have only risen since then.
What is the Problem with Abilify?
Studies have shown a possible connection between impulse control problems and Abilify use. The same possible connection has been shown with other drugs in this class.
Even worse, it appears that BMS either knew or should have known that Abilify could increase the risk of loss of impulse control and result in compulsive, addictive gambling. Yet, the company hid this information from doctors and patients worldwide all in the name of profits.
Studies Have Demonstrated the Dangers of Using Abilify
Scientists have known about the increased risk of impulse control problems, such as gambling addiction, with Abilify use for years – since approximately 2005.
Since 2005, multiple studies have linked the drug with gambling addiction.
In 2009, a small study of Parkinson’s patients being treated with dopamine receptor agonists at the Mayo Clinic showed abnormally high rates of impulse control problems among those patients. The problems included compulsive gambling, hypersexual behavior or both together.
The British Journal of Psychiatry published three case reports in April 2011 detailing such problems:
- “[J] was pre-occupied with thoughts of gambling and his gambling activity became both impulsive and involved extensive planning in obtaining funds to gamble, including the use of crime.”
- “[K] described an escalation in his gambling to the extent of spending all of his money and it being ‘a reason to live’.”
- “[S] began experiencing strong urges to gamble in the form of a euphoric feeling when thinking about gambling. In the following 2 years he incurred debts of around £25,000 on internet betting sites.”
Again, in October 2014, a study possibly connecting Abilify use and impulse control problems, particularly gambling addictions, was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Even Though Abilify Can Be Dangerous, Its Manufacturer Has Been Silent
Despite multiple indications by scientific studies that Abilify can lead to dangerous addiction, its manufacturer BMS did not issue adequate warnings.
Without proper warning, many people trusted that the medication would help them, instead ended up experiencing long-term damage and heavy losses – financial and otherwise – because they didn’t have the information needed to get help.
Profits before Patients
U.S. scientists have been asking the FDA for a Black Box warning label highlighting the risk of gambling addiction and other impulse control problems on dopamine agonists, such as Abilify. In the United States, their requests have fallen on deaf ears until recently. In Europe and Canada the dangers of Abilify have been better dealt with.
Abilify Sold in Europe Carries a Warning Label
In 2012, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) required a New Abilify Warning Label for Abilify that highlighted the connection between Abilify use and “pathological gambling.”
The EMA based this requirement on post-marketing studies showing 19 cases of such behavior in those taking the drug. Interestingly, most of these cases met the U.S. FDA’s criteria for “serious” problems.
European Label Warning of the Dangers of Abilify:
Post-marketing reports of pathological gambling have been reported among patients prescribed ABILIFY, regardless of whether these patients had a prior history of gambling. Patients with a prior history of pathological gambling may be at increased risk and should be monitored carefully.
Abilify Sold in Canada Carries a Warning Label
Not long after Europe included a label, in 2015 Health Canada stepped in and issued an updated warning for Abilify.
This new warning in Canada was based on information showing an increased risk of gambling addiction and other impulse control issues.
Canadian Label Warning of the Dangers of Abilify:
Post-marketing reports of pathological gambling have been reported in patients treated with ABILIFY. In relation to pathological gambling, patients with a prior history of gambling disorder may be at increased risk and should be monitored carefully.
It’s no coincidence that Health Canada’s safety review stated that compulsive behaviors in patients on Abilify were either eliminated or improved when the patients ceased taking the drug or reduced their dosages. These changes were found in 14 out of the 18 compulsive gambling cases studied and 5 out of the 6 hypersexual behavior cases.
United States Response to the Dangers of Abilify
Despite the new warning labels in Europe and Canada and all the studies supporting the changes, for many years Abilify labels in the U.S. still said nothing about gambling addiction or pathological gambling.
In fact, the U.S. label didn’t even mention the word “gambling” at all until August 2016.
The Food and Drug Administration Was Notified of the Dangers of Abilify
The Federal Food and Drug Agency (FDA) cannot really claim it was ignorant of Abilify’s dangerous side effects.
Between 2005 and 2013, the FDA received reports of 54 cases of impulse control issues in Abilify patients (32 were for compulsive gambling) In 2014, Twenty-nine cases of gambling addiction related to Abilify use were reported to the FDA In 2015, the FDA received 153 reports of gambling addiction relating to Abilify use
New U.S. Warning Label For Abilify
The new U.S. label, issued in Abilify August 2016 warning, contains stronger warning about impulse control issues, such as:
- Health care providers should ask Abilify patients if they’re experiencing new or intense urges to gamble, have sex, eat or shop.
- Those taking Abilify may not be able to tell that their compulsive behaviors are out-of-the-ordinary.
- Abilify users who are having impulse control issues should cease taking the drug or have their health care providers reduce their dosage. Quite often, the compulsive urges stop.
What Damages Have Abilify Users Suffered?
Patients being treated with Abilify have suffered various losses, including:
- Major financial losses (gambling debts)
- Legal problems
- Job loss
- Loss of family (divorce)
- Decline in quality of life
- Loss of reputation
- Emotional damage
Abilify, the Department of Justice, Illegal Marketing & a Multi-million Dollar Settlement
Abilify Manufacturer Improperly Marketed to Children, Adolescents and the Elderly
From 2002 to 2005, BMS’ marketing Abilify to children from 2002 to 2005.
The Department of Justice stepped in to address the improper marketing.
A Department of Justice press release in September 2007 detailed how Bristol-Myers Squibb told its sales representatives to promote Abilify for children, adolescents and the elderly.
Even though the FDA had ordered a black box warning against using Abilify to treat dementia-related psychosis, Abilify sales reps targeted nursing homes to increase sales.
BMS settled with the DOJ for $515 million.
Abilify Lawsuits Centralized in Multi-District Litigation
Many victims injured by their use of Abilify filed lawsuits against its manufacturer.
These many Abilify lawsuits were centralized in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida under Judge M. Casey Rodgers.
Warriors For The Injured
If you or a loved one has taken Abilify and experienced any of the negative impacts mentioned, you need experienced pharmaceutical attorneys on your side.
Justinian & Associates has represented dozens of victims injured by dangerous pharmaceuticals like Abilify. Our Austin personal injury attorneys also have extensive experience handling mass torts and multi-district litigation.
We know the law, we know the system, and we will fight to make sure you receive all the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
Call, text or email us for a free consultation with a seasoned Austin personal injury attorney. Tell us your story, and we will explain your options under the law. And unless we get you money for your injuries, you owe us nothing.
Don’t Wait to Seek Legal Assistance For Your Abilify Lawsuit
Your rights can be lost if you wait.
There are laws that limit how much time you have to file a lawsuit after being injured. They are known as statutes of limitation. They may apply to your lawsuit to recover for your Abilify injuries. The countdown may already have begun.
The legal team at Justinian and Associates has years of experience dealing with cases like Abilify.
The statute of limitations (how long you have to file a case) may already be counting down. Don’t let it expire!
Call, text or email us for a free consultation, with no obligation. Speak to an Austin personal injury attorney from Justinian & Associates (not a “screener” or paralegal) to understand your rights.
Call today for a free case review before it’s too late.