Abilify & Gambling

DISCLAIMER: Please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your use of any FDA-approved drug or device.

Abilify’s Devastating Side Effect: Financial Ruin

While many prescription drugs prove to have adverse physical side effects, there’s one drug that can apparently leave a patient in financial ruin.

Abilify (the brand name for aripiprazole) is in a class of drugs called antipsychotics, which are often used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Parkinson’s disease. Not only has Abilify been found to put patients at increased risk of diabetes, but the most startling findings also link the drug to pathological gambling, hypersexuality, and compulsive shopping!

Research suggests that the drug impacts patients’ impulse control, leading to unusual and harmful behaviors that have a devastating impact on their employment, their finances, and their families’ quality of life. The many product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers of Abilify relate to the companies’ failure to adequately warn doctors and patients of the risks.

Background on Abilify Use

Aripiprazole was developed by Otsuka in Japan, and has been jointly marketed in the US by Otsuka America and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Abilify has been approved by the FDA to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Some antipsychotics, including Abilify, are used for purposes other than those they were designed to treat. Abilify has been prescribed to elderly patients with dementia to control symptoms of agitation, aggression, and hallucinations. Although Abilify is being used off-label, doctors can legally prescribe any drug for any reason they deem appropriate.

This off-label use of Abilify has extended not only to treat symptoms of dementia in the elderly, but also to the treatment of bipolar disorder in children as well as treatment of anxiety and depression in adults. This helped make Abilify one of the best-selling drugs in the US in 2015.

Why is this off-label use concerning?

  • Antipsychotic medications are being prescribed to bipolar grade schoolers, yet, according to the FDA Medication Guide, “Antidepressant medicines may increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some children, teenagers, and young adults within the first few months of treatment.”
  • Abilify is sometimes used to control the behavior of elderly people in nursing homes. Yet the FDA Medication Guide warns that Abilify can raise the risk of death in elderly people who have lost touch with reality.

Abilify and Gambling:


The FDA has issued a warning stating that Abilify has been linked to side effects such as pathological gambling, binge eating and hypersexuality. These compulsive behaviors are thought to be triggered by the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Abilify inhibits these transmitters in some patients, but in others it attempts to balance chemical receptors in the brain by enhancing dopamine and serotonin levels. Compulsive behaviors include:

  • Eating
  • Shopping
  • Gambling
  • Sex addiction

Lawsuits

Drug companies have a responsibility to notify the public when a drug may cause harmful side effects. Failure to notify patients of potentially harmful effects is misleading and dangerous and often leads to lawsuits against the drug manufacturer.

The FDA states that “Although pathological gambling is listed as a reported side effect in the current aripiprazole drug labels, this description does not entirely reflect the nature of the impulse-control risk FDA identified.” Those who now struggle with debt as a result of compulsive behaviors caused by Abilify can seek damages by filing a lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturers, Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Bristol-Myers and Otsuka are not the only companies against whom lawsuits are being filed due to gambling, shopping, and sex addiction side effects. Pfizer has agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit by Australian citizens over one of its drugs. Some 172 patients who took Pfizer’s drugs Cabaser and Dostinex claimed to have gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars after taking either of those drugs, despite having no pre-existing gambling problems. These drugs work along the same lines as Abilify.

Nicholas Meyer filed an Abilify lawsuit in January 2016 in the US District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, stating that the “injurious impact of Abilify on Plaintiff’s brain constitutes a physical injury. As a result of Abilify use, Plaintiff has suffered, and will continue to suffer, neuropsychiatric and physical injury, emotional distress, harm, and economic loss as alleged herein.”

Gambling is hardly the only form of fallout from antipsychotic drugs. In 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb reached a $515 million settlement with the Justice Department for improperly marketing Abilify in children after one study found an increased risk of diabetes among children on antipsychotic drugs.

Since its introduction to the marketplace in 2002, Abilify has seen much controversy regarding its side effects. Bristol-Myers Squibb has been accused several times of marketing the drug for non-FDA-approved purposes. In 2007, the company was ordered to pay a fine of $515 million to the Department of Justice. In 2008, the drug’s inventor, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, paid $4 million to settle allegations of improper marketing of Abilify.

Filing a lawsuit against giant companies may seem like a hopeless cause. But, whether you become part of a group of claimants or file an individual case, a successful lawsuit can help you recover compensation for:

  • Treatment for a gambling addiction
  • Money lost to gambling
  • Emotional injury and loss of quality of life

It’s not only about seeking damages to recover losses, but also about letting the drug manufacturers know that, even though they are huge companies, they still have to play by the rules and tell the truth.

DISCLAIMER: Please consult with your doctor before making any changes to your use of any FDA-approved drug or device.