Bristol-Myers Squibb top-selling antipsychotic Abilify linked to users’ compulsive gambling

posted on:
March 8, 2017

Melissa Prickett

The top selling antipsychotic drug in the U.S., Abilify, raked in nearly $6.9 billion in 2013, according to a recent Jere Beasley Report. Originally approved in 2002 to treat adults with schizophrenia, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved Abilify to treat symptoms of a variety of mental disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression – purportedly to make life better for those using the drug.

Yet, many patients say its devastating side effects have ruined their lives.

Righting Injustice explains that when the FDA reviewed Abilify’s adverse events reports, 184 of them linked the drug with the impulse-control problems that developed in adults and children taking Abilify. The most reported impulse-control problem was pathological gambling.

One patient who used Abilify spoke anonymously with Denver, Colorado’s, KDVR saying she never desired to gamble until she was prescribed Abilify. She believes she gambled between $1 million and $2 million while she was taking the drug. She lost her house, lost custody of her children and damaged her relationship with her parents while suffering from the compulsion. The compulsion to gamble ended after stopping the drug.

In December, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Japanese pharmaceutical company, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., agreed to pay $19.5 million to 42 states and Washington D.C. to resolve lawsuits filed against them. The states sued the companies for improper marketing practices, including promoting off-label use by children and elderly patients with symptoms consistent with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In fact, in 2006, the FDA issued a black box warning not to use antipsychotic drugs to treat elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis because of an increased risk of death. Yet, the companies continued to market Abilify to elderly consumers.

Additionally, the agreement bans the companies from continuing to misrepresent findings of scientific studies conducted on the drug and to stop falsifying the risks Abilify poses.

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Lawyers in Beasley Allen’s Mass Torts Section are currently investigating cases involving Abilify and compulsive gambling. If you have any questions regarding the litigation, or if you would like us to review your potential claim, please contact Melissa Prickett, a lawyer in the Mass Torts Section. She can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email

Jere Beasley Report
Righting Injustice

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