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The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) has decided to consolidate all pending Abilify cases against Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals. This decision will centralize all cases filed in the federal court system before one judge, the Honorable M. Casey Rodgers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
According to the transfer order, there are currently 22 Abilify lawsuits pending in 12 district courts. Judges were also notified of another 20 related lawsuits that may be incorporated.
Abilify, also known as aripiprazole, is a popular antipsychotic medication that enables millions of users suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression to lead a more stable life. While the drug is effective at helping to control symptoms of these disorders, it can come at a high price to some users, turning them in to compulsive gamblers.
According to court filings, 24 million patients are estimated to have used the drug since it was first introduced to the U.S. over 13 years ago.
Earlier in 2016, the FDA issued a warning that the drug Abilify had been linked to side effects such as pathological gambling, binge eating and hyper-sexuality. Although the drug makers mentioned the possibility of the compulsive behavior side effect on the drug’s label, the description did not reflect the nature of the impulse-control risk.
In August of 2016, warning labels on Abilify were updated about the risk of addictive gambling and other uncontrollable behaviors.
All plaintiffs experienced compulsive gambling behaviors after taking Abilify. Lawsuits accuse Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals of failing to warn about impulse-control disorders, saying that the companies should have known about the risk.
The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) is a special judicial body that determines if civil actions such as product litigation like this merit transfer from their various jurisdictions to a single venue.
The benefits of consolidating into an MDL translates to greater efficiency.
After this process is complete, typically a few cases are chosen for “bellwether” trials where the outcomes are used to help negotiate settlements.
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In re: Abilify Compulsive Behavior Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2734
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