A Texas man is suing Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, alleging that their Abilify medication caused him major financial damage from compulsive gambling after he began taking the drug in 2011.
The plaintiff known as Jeremiah Y. filed suit in Houston, saying that the drug manufacturers failed to warn him against potential compulsive behaviors tied to the use of Abilify. The FDA issued a safety warning in May 2016 that Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Aristata and their generic equivalents could cause uncontrollable urges to binge eat, shop, gamble and have sex. These drugs are typically prescribed to treat a variety of mental disorders.
A number of lawsuits have been filed by users of these drugs who say they caused a lack of impulse control that led to compulsive behaviors, especially gambling. In 2010, a jury awarded $8.3 million to a man who sued Boehringer Ingelheim, alleging the company’s Mirapex medication caused him to lose more than $260,000 due to compulsive gambling.
According to Jeremiah Y.’s suit, he developed compulsive gambling behavior shortly after starting his Abilify prescription in 2011. Once his prescription use ended, he said that his gambling and spending urges decreased significantly. He filed his suit in 2016, soon after the tie between Abilify and compulsive behaviors came to light.
Abilify is typically prescribed for patients with mental disorders like bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia. The medication is known as a dopamine agonist, which is used to balance the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is the brain chemical for reward and pleasure. However, many studies have linked the use of dopamine agonists to compulsive behaviors, and it has been estimated that 17 percent of people who use these drugs suffer from this adverse reaction.
In addition, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) has reported that medications that manipulate dopamine levels in the brain can result in “severe impulse control disorders.”
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