Abilify Lawsuit Explained: All You Need To Know

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Abilify, known by the generic name Aripiprazole, is a prescription antipsychotic medication used by physicians worldwide to treat patients with schizophrenia and other psychological disorders. However, thousands of patients are suing the manufacturers due to adverse reactions they suffered while taking the drug.

If you or a loved one took Abilify or a generic form of the medication and experienced negative effects, you need to keep reading to find out about drug recalls side effects and information on how you can receive compensation for the damage the medicine caused.

Abilify Background

Otsuka Pharmaceutical of Japan first developed Abilify in 1998, and it gained FDA approval in 2002 for the treatment of schizophrenic patients in the United States. Since then, it has also received approval to treat Autism, Bi-Polar Disorder, Tourettes, and severe clinical depression.

Bristol-Myers Squibb distributes the drug in the United States, and the company generates more than $7 billion annually from the sale of Abilify. Millions of people have taken it since it hit the market in 2002, and it took nearly nine years to connect the dots between the medication and impulse control side effects.

However, serious complications were recorded for adolescents and elderly patients, prompting the FDA to require several black box warnings.

Other Names for Abilify

Aripiprazole, the drug subject to more than 2,000 legal proceedings, is found in Abilify, Aristada, and Abilify Maintena. If you’ve been on any of these three common antipsychotics and suffered from addictive behavior or involuntary movements, Aripiprazole may be the cause.

Abilify Side Effects

All medications have adverse side effects. Drug companies are not responsible for each side effect presented by a formulation. However, they must disclose potential side effects in the literature the pharmacist provides with your prescription. Drug companies also have to provide literature to prescribing physicians, to be aware of troubling symptoms or behaviors.

The side effects named in Abilify lawsuits were not previously disclosed by Bristol Myers Squibb in the literature given to patients or prescribers.

With so many filings, there are a ton of claims against the makers of Abilify. The most common are:

  • Tardive Dyskinesia – A condition that causes people to move involuntarily and often interferes with social, personal care, and work.
  • Compulsive Gambling – Of all the claims brought forth against Bristol Myer Squibb, compulsive gambling seems to be the most prevalent and scientifically backed. There are a couple of thousand gambling-related cases filed against the manufacturer.
  • Hypersexuality – Some patients report uncontrollable sexual urges and lowered sexual inhibitions when taking the drug. Two patients presented at a university hospital in Korea showed signs of increased sexual desire shortly after taking the drug. These side effects reportedly stopped after the patients quit taking Abilify.
  • Shopping Addiction – Compulsive online and in-store shopping is not uncommon in patients with mental diseases, In some people, Abilify intensely increases those desires, which caused some patients to accumulate thousands of dollars in debt.

Abilify Risks and Warnings

It is critical not to stop taking any medications without consulting your physician or psychiatrist first. If you stop taking Aripiprazole suddenly, there are also risks like:

  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Panic Attacks
  • Sweating
  • Depression
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite Changes

There are also reports of patients suddenly developing Tardive Dyskinesia after suddenly stopping Abilify. in some cases, the condition resolves after the patient stops taking the drug. In others, the effects are permanent.

As with all antipsychotic drugs, there is also a risk of increased suicidal thoughts and volatile mental health situations. When you stop taking Abilify, you must replace it with another medication to address any mental health issues.

Not taking your medication as prescribed can cause a psychotic break and undo the progress made by you and your healthcare provider. It is also essential to keep up with your behavioral health appointments. During these visits, your doctor will check for any changes in your vital signs and ask you questions to analyze how the medication works for you.

They will make adjustments and write prescriptions if necessary. You need to inform your mental health care team of any other new medications you are taking and all symptoms you experience.

Abilify Legal Proceedings

Attorney’s file lawsuits against drug manufacturers daily. However, many cases do not go anywhere until a large number of consumers push back or research finds that a compound is potentially dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does regulate drug companies, but guidelines provided by the agency are minimum safety standards.

During the testing and approval process, drug companies are responsible for doing due diligence and reporting the findings to the FDA. The FDA then conducts independent tests to verify the data. If the drug is found to be safe, the FDA approves it for specific medical treatments. Before approval and to maintain ongoing authorization to manufacture and distribute medication in the United States, the FDA may require the pharmaceutical company to provide warnings to patients and doctors.

Receiving approval for a new drug is not a simple task as there is a lengthy review process. However, there is often no way of knowing all of the effects a compound will cause until it is taken on a wider scale. When a harmful reaction arises, the FDA may require the company to provide additional warning information or pull the drug if the effects are determined to outway any benefits.

When the FDA issues warnings for a drug lawsuits often follow. However, anytime a drug causes harm to patients they have a right to bring suit against the manufacturer and developer. It is then up to the court to determine whether the claim is valid or unfounded.

Compulsive Behavior

There are thousands of filings against the makers of Abilify. So, cases involving addictive behavior were compiled by the courts into a class-action multi-district lawsuit. Otsuka American Pharmaceuticals and Bristol Myers Squibb reached a settlement in a case in February of 2019 with thousands of people claiming that the drug caused them to have compulsive behavior. A fund was set up by the companies as directed by the judge to settle the current claims and future claims by injured parties.

A Special Master and CPA appointed by the court govern the fund and determine the amount of any common benefit claims filed against the drug makers. The settlement is ongoing and the Special Master and CPA will work with the plaintiff’s counsel to reach a fair settlement amount for each injured party.

Deceptive Trade Practices

The legal troubles with Abilify started in 2007 when the company was accused of promoting the drug for off-label uses, including for the treatment of pediatric and elderly patients with dementia. The company had to pay a total settlement of $515 million. The company also settled two similar claims for $50 million and $19.5 million.

Type 2 Diabetes

A case brought by five female patients against Abilify makers alleging that it caused Type 2 Diabetes was determined to be unfounded by a judge in New York in 2015.

Recapping Abilify Lawsuits and Claims

All of this information can be a bit challenging to digest. So, review the takeaways below to ensure that you didn’t miss anything.

  • There are more than 2,600 Abilify lawsuits against Bristol Myers Squibb.
  • Bristol Myers Squibb paid nearly $600 million in settlements for deceptive trade practices.
  • In some patients, Abilify causes uncontrollable urges to engage in activities (gambling, sex, shopping, etc.) that cause emotional and financial damage.
  • Abilify manufacturer Bristol Myers Squibb failed to notify doctors, patients, and the FDA of findings that support the connection between Abilify and harmful behaviors.
  • A lawsuit alleging that Abilify causes Tardive Dyskenisia


Take a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about Abilify litigation below to learn more about these cases.

Question: What Does Abilify Do to the Brain?

Answer: Abilify belongs to a family of drugs called second-generation or atypical antipsychotic. These drugs work by balancing dopamine and serotonin in the brain, but unlike first-generation anti-psychotics, Abilify targets certain receptors in the brain to reduce the risks of extrapyramidal symptoms or involuntary movements.

Question: Is There a Recall on Abilify?

Answer: Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued any recalls on Abilify. However, it has issued ‘black box warnings and notices to prescribing physicians and it is not recommended for use in elderly patients with dementia, as there is an increased risk of death, or pediatric patients, as there is an increased risk of suicidal thoughts.

Question: Is There a Class Action Lawsuit Against Abilify?

Answer: Yes, there is a multi-district mass tort product liability litigation that is ongoing against Otsuka American Pharmaceutical and Bristol Myers Squibb. Currently, the Judge, Special Master, and CPA assigned to the case are managing the settlement of this suit.

Question: Is Abilify a Bad Drug?

Answer: There have been thousands of claims brought against both the maker and distributor of Abilify. However, doctors treating psychiatric disorders prescribe the drug to millions of patients around the globe. The drug helps many people live a better life. Other people taking the drug have a different experience and it can increase suicidal thoughts in young adults and adolescents and it increases the death rate of elderly patients suffering from dementia.

Final Advice for Abilify Perscribees

If you feel that Abilify may have negatively impacted you or caused you financial damages, you may want to take legal action.

You may be eligible to file if:

  • You struggled with compulsive behaviors after taking Abilify.
  • You had no previous history of gambling addiction.
  • Your behavior became more impulsive after taking Abilify.
  • You suffered damages above $50,000.
  • You can prove that the losses coincide with the period you were taking the medication.
  • You are no longer taking Abilify.

You should not stop taking the drug until you speak with your prescriber because it is vital that you be monitored closely when you stop taking an antipsychotic treatment and while you are transitioning to a new treatment.


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