The New Jersey Supreme Court has agreed to establish a multicounty litigation for all product liability claims filed in the state on behalf of individuals who allegedly developed gambling addictions or other impulse control disorders due to their use of Abilify.
In a Notice to the Bar dated May 9th, the Court ordered that all currently-pending Abilify lawsuits be transferred to Judge Nelson C. Johnson in Atlantic County Superior Court. Any future filings will also be transferred to Atlantic County.
There are currently more than 40 Abilify cases pending in New Jersey. In a petition filed with the New Jersey Supreme Court last November, plaintiffs argued that the docket would benefit from coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings.
“The Abilify cases involve numerous claims with common, recurrent, and complex issues of law and fact. All of these cases involve Abilify, the same product manufactured and promoted by the same defendants,” the petition states. “All of the plaintiffs claim that defendants knew, or should have known, that Abilify causes and contributes to uncontrollable compulsive behaviors, and that defendants failed to adequately warn of those risks. Further, all of the actions proposed for designation allege substantially similar violations of law and are based upon the same or substantially similar underlying claims surrounding the safety profile of Abilify.”
Abilify (aripiprazole) is an atypical antipsychotic medication approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorders.
In May 2016, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ordered that new warnings be added to the labels for all aripiprazole-containing medications, after a review of the agency’s adverse event database revealed more than 184 reports of gambling addictions and other impulse control disorders potentially associated with their use. In most cases, patients had no prior history of compulsive disorders before they began using aripiprazole, and, in a majority of cases, their compulsive urges subsided once dosage was reduced or treatment ended.
Since then hundreds of people have filed Abilify lawsuits to recover compensation for gambling losses and other damages related to compulsive behaviors they developed while taking the drug.
Roughly 800 federally-filed Abilify gambling lawsuits have been centralized in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida. That proceeding was scheduled to begin a series of three Abilify bellwether trials in June. However, all three of the cases selected for trial recently settled.
On May 8th, the judge overseeing the federal Abilify litigation gave the parties until September to finalize a framework for a global Abilify settlement.