The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) recently issued a Transfer Order centralizing all Abilify lawsuits filed in the federal courts across the country in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) in the Northern District of Florida for the purposes of coordinated discovery and other pretrial proceedings. United States District Court Judge Casey Rodgers, who has served as Chief Judge for Florida’s Northern District since 2011, and was also the first female Article III Judge in history for that District, is presiding over the MDL.
These cases allege that Abilify causes patients to engage in compulsive behaviors such as gambling, sexual activity, shopping and binge eating. In May 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a Drug Safety Announcement regarding the uncontrollable behaviors, but it is alleged that the manufacturers knew about it for many years, yet failed to warn users of these side effects because of the impact it would have on sales.
MDLs benefit all parties involved by eliminating duplicative and costly discovery. Judges presiding over MDLs often set bellwether trials (or test cases) once discovery is completed in an effort to encourage settlement negotiations by setting high and low values, depending on how the juries find in those cases. This is accomplished by having both sides – the Plaintiff’s Steering Committee, and the counsel for the Defendant – select their choices for what they believe to be a representative “pool” of cases after each filed case is carefully reviewed.
Abilify belongs to the atypical antipsychotic class of prescription drugs, and was first developed in Japan by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka co-market Abilify in the United States, and while sales have been on the decline in recent years, data indicates that more than $6 billion (USD) in sales have been generated since 2011.
If you need more information on the Abilify litigation, contact Melissa Prickett or Matt Munson, both lawyers in our firm’s Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Melissa.Prickett@beasleyallen.com or Matt.Munson@beasleyallen.com.