A federal court will fast-track discovery for 6 Abilify gambling lawsuits in preparation for a second round of bellwether trials.
According to an Order issued on September 14th in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, the cases selected for fast-track discovery were filed on behalf of the following plaintiffs:
“The Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee and Joint Discovery Committee are directed to confer and submit a proposed discovery schedule for these six cases by October 26, 2018, given that the trial(s) will be held in spring 2019,” the Court directed in a second Order issued the same day. “The proposed schedule should include a briefing schedule for dispositive and other significant motions (e.g., consolidation, punitive damages, statutes of limitations) that will need to be resolved before trial.”
Abilify (aripiprazole) is an atypical antipsychotic medication approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorders. The drug affects the brain’s serotonin and dopamine receptors. Among other things, dopamine plays a vital role in pleasure seeking and motivation. People with high levels of dopamine are more likely to experience compulsive behaviors.
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 impulse control disorders potentially associated with their use. All but 20 of those reports involved gambling addictions.
Most of the aripiprazole patients who experienced compulsive urges had no prior history of impulse control disorders prior to beginning treatment. The majority also reported that their compulsive urges subsided when treatment ended or dosage was decreased.
There are currently more than 1,600 product liability lawsuits pending in the Northern District of Florida, where all federally-claims involving Abilify’s alleged link to gambling addictions have been centralized for coordinated pretrial proceedings. Verdicts in the litigation’s bellwether trials could provide insight into how other juries might decide similar claims.
The proceeding’s first round of bellwether trials was scheduled to begin over the summer. However, the parties agreed to settle the Abilify lawsuits selected for those trials in April.