Last month, Rikki Carlson filed suit in federal court in the District of Massachusetts against Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, and Otsuka American Pharmaceutical for injuries allegedly suffered from the anti-psychotic drug Abilify.
The Fall River woman claims that she suffered damages as a result of the defendants’ wrongful conduct regarding the design, labeling, promoting, marketing, development, testing, packaging, advertising, and distribution of the drug. Her lawsuit includes claims of strict liability, negligence, breach of warranty, and fraudulent concealment.
Abilify first entered the U.S. market in around 2002. It is Bristol-Myers Squibb’s top-selling drug; it earned the pharmaceutical company $6.4 billion in 2013. It is prescribed to treat depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. In 2014, over 8.8 million Abilify prescriptions were administered.
Carlson claims that the drug causes compulsive behaviors, including shopping, binge eating, and — most significantly — gambling. Carlson was prescribed and started taking Abilify in 2010. Shortly thereafter, she began uncontrollably shopping and gambling. She also started compulsively eating and gained significant weight. Her compulsive urges discontinued when she stopped taking Abilify.
Carlson claims that due to Abilify, she suffered “devastating financial damages” (over $40,000), and it “stole [her] life for several years.” She alleges loss of substantial finances, significant weight gain, and various other physical, economic, and mental losses. She further claims that the defendants were neither honest nor forthcoming about Abilify’s side effects. Carlson claims that she had never gambled before taking Abilify and that it has since destroyed her life–not only financially but also her personal relationships.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), compulsive gambling is a major psychiatric disorder. It’s listed under the category of “Substance-Related and Addictive Disorders” because gambling activates reward systems similar to those activated by abusive drugs and shares some symptoms with them.
Since 2012, Abilify labels in Europe have warned of compulsive gambling. The defendants, however, did not caution Abilify users and doctors regarding the risk of compulsive behaviors until this year. In May 2016, the FDA mandated that Abilify include warnings regarding compulsive urges to binge eat, gamble, shop, and have sex. The FDA urged doctors to notify their patients of the potential to develop these compulsions, closely oversee patients on Abilify, and reduce the dosage or stop prescribing Abilify if compulsive behavior manifests.
The FDA issued a letter in April of last year, announcing that Abilify promotional materials are misleading because they imply that Abilify offers advantages over other drugs, which have not been supported by evidence.
According to Carlson’s complaint, the defendants unfairly generated profits at the expense of patient security and transparency. In failing to caution patients and the medical community about Abilify’s tendency to cause compulsive behaviors, the defendants allegedly generated vastly more revenue from sales in the U.S. than in Europe. Carlson claims that if she’d been in Europe, “this never would have happened.”
Carlson seeks the costs of treatment, damages for her neuropsychiatric, mental, physical, and economic pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
If you have been injured by another party’s negligence, you may face significant medical bills and time off work, and you may need the assistance of a dangerous drug lawyer to redress your injuries. At the Neumann Law Group, our personal injury attorneys provide trustworthy legal representation to accident victims all over the state of Massachusetts. Contact us toll-free at 800-525-NEUMANN or use our online form to set up a free consultation.
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