Patients Suffering Compulsive Behaviors from Abilify May Be Entitled to Compensation

Abilify (Aripiprazole) is an antipsychotic drug which has become one of the most-prescribed and best-selling drugs of all time.  It is used to treat bipolar I disorder in adult and pediatric patients, schizophrenia in adults and adolescents, autistic disorder in pediatric patients, and Tourette’s disorder in pediatric patients. In addition, it is used as an add-on drug to treat depression.

Developed and manufactured by Otsuka Pharmaceutical and marketed by Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Abilify has come under fire in recent years for not adequately warning patients about the drug’s side effects.  In particular, the drug has been linked to serious compulsive behaviors including uncontrollable gambling, binge eating, hyper-sexuality, and obsessive shopping/spending.

Patient Case Studies

  • Uncontrollable Gambling – A KMSP-TV/Fox 9 article describes a Minnesota woman who began taking Abilify for depression. Suddenly, she found herself strongly drawn to the casino.  In fact, she started skipping work to satisfy her gambling obsession.  The woman used cash from her kids’ college fund for her gambling and even took out a secret loan for $50,000.  The total for her gambling losses grew to $156,000.  The turning point did not come, however, until her kids pleaded with her to come home from the casino.  She did, and she also stopped using Abilify.  Once she stopped taking the drug, her overwhelming urge started to go away within a week.
  • Binge Eating —  A November 18, 2017 review on Everyday Health was posted from an individual suffering from depression as well as other disorders.  The patient was prescribed Abilify as part of a drug regimen.  After taking it for a few weeks and feeling amazing emotionally, the patient started gaining weight and connected it to binge eating.  After gaining 70 pounds in less than 3 months, the individual also experienced suicidal thoughts, which were worsened after the weight gain.
  • Hyper-Sexuality — The June 2013 issue of the Psychiatry Investigation Journal describes a 36-year-old female who was prescribed Aripiprazole (Abilify’s generic) for schizophrenia.  After taking the drug, she experienced increased sexual urges, engaged in more sexual fantasies, and watched pornographic materials more often.  She also experienced spontaneous sexual urges toward strangers.  This behavior was not present before taking the drug, and it caused her embarrassment and guilt.  Once she quit taking Aripiprazole, this compulsion rapidly declined.
  • Obsessive Shopping/Spending — The November 28, 2016 edition of the Daily Beast describes one woman whose life was greatly affected by compulsive spending once she started taking Abilify.  She claims to have gone on extreme shopping sprees – taking out loans to buy cars and building an addition to her garage.  The result of this extravagance was the repossession of the automobiles, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, and thousands of dollars owed to the Internal Revenue Service.  She has since quit taking the drug, but claims that it has destroyed her life and her reputation.

Failure to Warn Patients

Numerous complaints have been filed against Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Bristol-Meyers Squibb for failing to properly warn patients and physicians about the serious possible side effects of Abilify.  Between 2004 and 2017, the FDA received more than 34,000 adverse events reports about the medication.

In 2016, the FDA issued a black box warning (the strongest labeling requirements the FDA can issue for prescription drugs) requiring additional information be added to the drug’s medication guide to address the issue of uncontrollable urges associated with Abilify which appear to stop when the medication is discontinued.

Harm to Patients

The compulsive behavior linked to Abilify can have devastating effects on patients and their families.  Their uncontrollable desires can put their lives into a tailspin.  Some have lost great sums of money – even their life’s savings.  Some have suffered great humiliation and deep guilt.  Families have been torn apart.

Without proper warning labels on Abilify, doctors were more likely to prescribe it, and patients were more likely to take it, without realizing that these behaviors were a  possibility.  If you or a family member has been prescribed Abilify and later suffered from sudden unexpected compulsive behavior, you should understand the legal options that may be available to you.

Call us at (888) 458-6825 or fill out our contact form to discuss your legal options.

The consultation is free and confidential.