Abilify Lawsuit Plaintiffs Ask Court to Sanction Bristol-Myers Squibb, Otsuka

Published on February 28, 2018 by Sandy Liebhard

Plaintiffs involved in hundreds of Abilify gambling lawsuits are seeking sanctions against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., the manufacturers of the antipsychotic drug.

Abilify and Compulsive Gambling

Abilify (aripiprazole) is an atypical antipsychotic medication approved for the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders.

In May 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the drug’s manufacturers to modify the Abilify label, after a review of the agency’s adverse event database revealed more than 180 reports of impulse control disorders – mostly involving compulsive gambling, though some reports involved compulsive sexual behavior, shopping and eating – among patients treated with aripiprazole.

In most cases, the affected patients had no prior history of compulsive behaviors, and most saw their compulsive urges subside once they ceased using aripiprazole or their dosage was decreased.

While the Abilify label had noted compulsive gambling as a possible side effect prior to May 2016, the FDA review indicated that the wording did not completely reflect the nature of the impulse-control risk associated with aripiprazole.

Abilify Gambling Litigation

Since then, more than 635 Abilify gambling lawsuits have been filed against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc. on behalf of plaintiffs who developed gambling addictions and other impulse control problem, allegedly due to their use of aripiprazole. Among other things, these plaintiffs claim that Abilify was defectively designed and manufactured, and assert that Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka knew or should have known of its potential to cause compulsive behaviors and should have provided better warnings to doctors and patients.

The majority of Abilify lawsuits are currently pending in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, where all federally-filed claims involving aripiprazole-induced compulsive behaviors have been centralized before a single judge for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

Abilify Defendants Accused of Destroying Evidence

Earlier this month, Abilify plaintiffs asked the Court to sanction Bristol-Myers and Otsuka for their conduct in the course of the multidistrict litigation.

On February 8th, plaintiffs accused Otsuka of destroying certain pre-2007 communications that they contend are vital to their claims. They further charge that the drug maker waited too long to disclose the lack of evidence. According to Law360.com, plaintiffs have asked the Court to issue an adverse inference or other sanctions against Otsuka or grant them permission to present evidence to jurors about the circumstances of the company’s failure to retain or produce the communications.

On February 13th, plaintiffs asked the Court to sanction Bristol-Myers Squibb for a “pattern of obstructing discovery in the case and accusing the company’s counsel of making false statements to the court.” According to plaintiffs, the evidence in question was recently revealed during the deposition of a Bristol-Myers employee.

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