Reports linking Abilify to pathological gambling continue to mount, according to new data compiled by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP). According to the group’s latest QuarterWatch Report, 147 adverse events involving Abilify and compulsive gambling were reported to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) last year.
Abilify is an atypical antipsychotic that affects the brain’s dopamine receptors. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in emotions, movements and a person’s sensations of pleasure and pain. Not surprisingly, it has long been implicated in the development of compulsive behaviors, including gambling additions.
The ISMP report is not the first to cite a connection between Abilify and gambling addictions. This past November, Canadian health regulators ordered the drug’s manufacturers to add new warnings about compulsive behaviors, including pathological gambling, to the Abilify label. The label modifications were mandated after a Health Canada review identified 18 cases of pathological gambling and six cases of hypersexuality possibly related to the use of Abilify in the published scientific literature. In most cases, the behaviors ceased or improved when treatment with the drug was stopped or when the dose was reduced, suggesting a direct link between the drug and the side effect.
The European label for Abilify has included a warning about pathological gambling since 2012. Among other things, the label advises that patients with a prior history of pathological gambling may be at increased risk and should be monitored carefully.
Currently, the U.S. label for Abilify makes no mention of compulsive gambling. The lack of such a warning has prompted a number of U.S. patients to file Abilify lawsuits that seek compensation for the financial losses and other damages sustained due to a gambling addiction that allegedly resulted from their use of the antipsychotic medication.
One of the most recent Abilify gambling lawsuits was filed on January 20th in New Jersey’s Bergen County Superior Court. According to court documents, the case was brought on behalf of a man who allegedly began to gamble compulsively shortly after he was prescribed the drug in 2010. Once his treatment ceased in 2013, his compulsive behavior subsided. The complaint asserts that from 2005 to 2013, the FDA received at least 54 reports of compulsive or impulsive behavior problems associated with Abilify, including 30 reports of compulsive gambling, 12 reports of impulsive behavior, nine reports of hypersexuality, and three reports of compulsive shopping. The lawsuit also cites an analysis of the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System which indicated that 297 reports of Abilify-related gambling behavior were made to the FDA in 2014.