Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. And Bristol Myers Squibb Co. are facing two lawsuits involving claims that the drug companies failed to warn that their antidepressant Abilify could cause compulsive gambling or other compulsive behaviors.
The lawsuits, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, allege that plaintiffs began compulsively gambling shortly after taking Abilify, and then stopped soon after they discontinued use of the medication.
Abilify is an atypical anti-psychotic drug that is used as an add-on treatment for adults with depression, and for children and adults with manic or mixed episodes of bipolar 1 disorder or schizophrenia, and to treat irritability with autism in pediatric patients. It is a partial and full dopamine agonist. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers.
Compulsive gambling is a major psychiatric disorder. Studies have shown that gambling behaviors are activated by reward systems similar to those activated by drug abuse and produce some behavioral symptoms comparable to those produced by substance abuse disorders. Furthermore, scientific data has for years linked dopamine as a potential cause of pathological gambling.
In 2012, European drug authorities required Abilify makers to warn the public of the risk of pathological gambling associated with the drug. Last November, Health Canada ordered similar warnings on labels of Abilify after concluding there is a link between use of the drug and pathological gambling or hyper-sexuality.
The safety labels of Abilify sold in the U.S. do not contain warnings despite at least 54 reports of compulsive or impulsive behavior problems – including 30 reports of compulsive gambling – from 2005 to 2013.
Source: Harris Martin