Five individuals from Nevada have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer of a prescription drug that they claimed caused them to become addicted to gambling, resulting in losses.
A complaint was filed in Washoe County District Court against Japan-based Otsuka Pharmaceutical and its American arm, Otsuka America Pharmaceuticals Inc. alleging that the company’s anti-psychotic drug Abilify caused compulsive behavior, including gambling, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
The Nevada plaintiffs are suing for monetary compensation related to gambling losses as a result of taking the drug, although no dollar figure was specified in the lawsuit, according to the report. Currently, there are over 1,000 lawsuits pending across the nation against both the manufacturer and distributors of Abilify.
Abilify, and its generic counterpart aripiprazole, are used to treat schizophrenia, depression and autism spectrum and bipolar disorders. The manufacturers were aware of the possible side effects in 2011, and even submitted a report to the European Medicines Agencies stating, “compulsive gambling could not be excluded…” from the effects of taking the drug. While it added a warning to the drug’s label in Europe and Canada in 2012, it did not include the label on American-distributed bottles until 2016.
Abilify is considered to be a bestseller in the United States. There has recently been a rise in concern regarding the drug by health officials in the U.S. as well as the UK, but these concerns have mostly fallen on deaf ears. Almost one in every four patients that seek psychiatric assistance for anxiety are prescribed anti-psychotic drugs like Abilify, despite the absence of hard-core evidence supporting their effectiveness.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), the pharmaceutical behemoth based in New York City, is also named in the lawsuit, as are two of the company’s sales reps, according to the report. BMS serves as the marketing partner for Otsuka in the country.
Between 2005 and 2013, according to an investigation, the U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) received a minimum of 30 complaints of compulsive gambling and 24 of other compulsive behavior such as hypersexuality and compulsive shopping that possibly stemmed from the use of Abilify. No mention of adverse effects was listed in the U.S. patient medication guide that accompanies all drugs. Additionally, online marketing of the drug continued without any warnings added to the drug’s description on the company’s websites.