A Quebec court has certified a proposed Class in an Abilify class action lawsuit alleging those who took the antipsychotic medication suffered from compulsions to shop, gamble, overeat, and even have sex.
Lead plaintiff S. Scheer lodged the complaint against Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada, Otsuka Canada Pharmaceutical, and Lundbeck Canada seeking to represent Canadians who took Abilify before Feb. 23, 2017.
On Jan. 6, 2020, the representative for the plaintiff announced that the proposed Class had been certified by the Honourable Justice Pierre-C. Gagnon. To remain in the Class, you don’t have to do anything further. Canadians who would like to opt out of the Abilify class action must do so by May 31, 2020.
The Abilify class action lawsuit alleges that the medication carries a risk of causing irresistible compulsions to eat, gamble, and shop, but the drug makers failed to adequately warn patients.
According to the Abilify class action lawsuit, the drug makers “developed, designed, manufactured, tested, marketed, labelled, packaged, promoted, advertised, imported, distributed, and/or sold the ABILIFY Products as safe and/or effective despite a wealth of existing knowledge that the drugs had dangerous side effects including uncontrollable impulses, such as pathological gambling, binge eating, uncontrollable spending or shopping and hypersexual behavior.”
Abilify is an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, notes the complaint. It comes in several different dosages, available in both pill and liquid form. The drug works by binding to receptors in the brain, making it different from drugs in the same family known as atypical antipsychotics.
“Like other atypical antipsychotics, the ABILIFY Products bind to several different neurotransmitter receptors, but unlike others in its class, it doesn’t block dopamine (specifically, dopamine D2) or serotonin (specifically, 5-HT1A) receptors,” states the Abilify class action lawsuit.
“Instead, it’s a partial agonist at those receptors – it can activate those receptors, but not to the full biological effect. In lay terms, it can both enhance dopamine and serotonin signaling where those transmitters are deficient, and inhibit signaling where they are in excess.”
Dopamine has a role in compulsive and addictive behavior, contends the plaintiff, and that role is well known. Additionally, the drug makers allegedly knew of reports of serious pathological gambling linked to patients who took Abilify while the drug was still being tested. Despite these reports, the companies pushed for approval of Abilify in 2009.
Further cases of compulsive, addictive behaviors linked to the drug were reported in subsequent years, alleges the Abilify class action lawsuit. Patients reported an irresistible urge to gamble and overeat and some reported incidents of hypersexuality. These urges, says the plaintiff, dissipated after the patients were switched to a different medication.
Even in the face of these reports, as well as limits placed on the use of Abilify by the European Union, Bristol-Meyers and Otsuka marketed the drug to Canadians, alleges the complaint.
“Despite the risks of serious adverse events, and the lack of adequate testing, that Respondents aggressively promoted ABILIFY, including illegal promotion for off-label use,” states the class action lawsuit.
In 2017, the makers of Abilify reached a $19.5 million settlement with 43 U.S. attorneys generals who brought similar claims. The funds were distributed to those who took the antipsychotic medication in the U.S.
Did you take Abilify and suffer from compulsions to overeat, gamble, shop, or have sex? Tell us your story in the comments below.
The plaintiff is represented by Consumer Law Group.
The Abilify Class Action Lawsuit is S. Scheer v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Canada Co., et al., Case No. 500-06-000831-160, in the Superior Court for the Province of Quebec, District of Montreal, Canada.
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