Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals have agreed to settle three Abilify lawsuits that were schedule for bellwether trials later this summer in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida.
According to an Order dated April 28th, the Court has stayed all proceedings in the following cases:
“In accordance with the parties’ agreement, within the next 30 days, Defendants must pay the settlement proceeds to Plaintiffs and, in turn, Plaintiffs must execute full releases,” the Order states. “The parties must file a stipulation of dismissal within ten days of the releases being executed.”
The three Abilify lawsuits will stay on the trial docket until the stipulated dismissals are filed with the Court.
More than 800 Abilify lawsuits are currently pending in the Northern District of Florida, where all federally-filed claims involving the antipsychotic medication’s alleged association with compulsive gambling and other impulse control disorders have been centralized in a multidistrict litigation for the purpose of coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings.
Lawyers appointed to the Abilify litigation’s Settlement Committee had been meeting with a Special Settlement Master in recent weeks in a bid to resolve the three bellwether cases. On April 25th, U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers ordered the committee to meet once more to continue those efforts. That meeting was convened on April 27th.
Bellwether trials are a standard part of the multidistrict litigation process. Verdicts in these early trials may provide insight into how later juries might rule in similar Abilify gambling crimes.
Abilify (aripiprazole) is an atypical antipsychotic medication approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorders. It is also used off-label to treat irritability, aggression, mood swings and other behavior issues.
In May 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced label updates for all aripiprazole-containing medications, after a review of the agency’s adverse event database revealed more than 184 reports of impulse control disorders potentially associated with their use.
The majority of reports – 164 – involved gambling addictions, while the remaining included reports of compulsive sexual behavior, shopping and eating. In most cases, the affected individuals had no prior history of compulsive behaviors and reported that they began experiencing uncontrollable urges shortly after they initiated treatment with aripiprazole. In most cases, the urges subsided when the patient stopped using aripiprazole.
“Patients and caregivers should be alert for uncontrollable and excessive urges and behaviors while taking aripiprazole,” The FDA warned. “It is important to talk with a health care professional as soon as possible if you or a family member experiences any of these uncontrollable urges, in order to prevent or limit possible harm. Patients should not suddenly stop taking their aripiprazole medicine without first talking to their health care professional.”