If you take Abilify, or you know someone who does, we hope you’ll read this blog closely. Abilify, also known as Abilify Maintena, Aristada, and by its generic name, aripiprazole, has been implicated in causing uncontrollable urges in users of the drug, primarily compulsive gambling. However, other compulsive behaviors, such as eating, sexual behaviors, and shopping or spending money, are also known side effects.

Abilify, first sold in 2002, is a true money-maker for Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb. As a top-selling drug in the U.S, the drug grossed around $7.5 billion from October 2013 through September 2014.

What is Abilify?

Abilify is an antipsychotic drug used primarily to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression). It can also be used to treat Tourette syndrome, irritable moods associated with an autistic disorder, and in combination with other medications to remedy depression that doesn’t respond to other treatments. It works by rebalancing neurotransmitters in the brain. When used as prescribed for these mental or mood disorders, Abilify can be helpful for many people.

Some doctors prescribe Abilify for what are known as “off-label” usages. None of these uses—for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, insomnia, and dementia—is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nor have there been any clinical trials demonstrating that the drug is safe—or even effective—for these health problems.

Damaging Side Effects

Every drug has side effects, and those for Abilify can be similar to other pharmaceuticals prescribed for mental/mood disorders: lightheadedness/dizziness, nausea, constipation, vomiting, and weight gain. These effects, while they can be difficult to deal with, are not considered a serious threat to health. But a disturbing trend of impulse control disorders have resulted that are significant enough for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a drug safety report warning about the use of Abilify.

During a 13 year time period beginning with 2002, 184 case reports in the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) database and in medical literature have indicated a link between using Abilify and impulse-control behaviors, especially pathological gambling. Of the 167 U.S. Abilify cases, 164 involved compulsive gambling, although other compulsive behaviors have shown up in the reports. In over half the cases, patients with no previous problems pertaining to compulsive behaviors began experiencing uncontrollable impulses to act in certain ways. Such overpowering urges stopped within a few days to weeks of reducing or stopping their dosage of Abilify.

Progress of Abilify Court Suits

One of the situations that has sparked a number of Abilify suits concerns labeling. In Europe, the drug’s warning label has specified pathological gambling as a side effect since 2012. However, in the U.S., both Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb left this important information off labels and did not include it in patient guides until 2016. Therefore, neither patients nor doctors were fully cognizant of the side effects concerning compulsive gambling and other related behaviors when considering the drug as an appropriate treatment. And yet clearly the drug’s manufacturers have known about the damaging side effects for years.

During 2016, a number of cases concerning Abilify were consolidated into what’s known as a “multidistrict litigation.” It simply means that all the related federal cases were moved to one court so the litigation process could be performed more efficiently. These cases were consolidated in the Northern District of Florida federal court, where it was announced that the first of the trials might start before the end of 2017. More than 115 product liability lawsuits against Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb need to make their way through the federal court system.

If you or a loved one have used Abilify and experienced the harmful side effects that involve compulsive gambling and other uncontrollable behaviors, you might want to seek legal assistance. You should know that pharmaceutical manufacturers can be held liable for improper labeling, unsafe side effects, inadequate testing, or production defects. Additionally, medical professionals who prescribe drugs for “off-label” use (i.e., for uses not approved by the FDA and listed on their packaging) can be sued for medical malpractice if these off-label uses lead to injury or death.

Seeking Truth. Securing Justice.

If you or someone you care about was seriously injured by a prescription drug, you should speak with a South Carolina pharmaceutical litigation attorney at the Louthian Law Firm as soon as possible. We have been securing justice for hardworking people and families of South Carolina since 1959. A personal injury award won in court or through a negotiated settlement can help a person harmed by a dangerous drug move forward toward health and wholeness. Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for these lawsuits often starts before you discover the injuries, so time is of the essence.

Because we know injured people are often suffering financially as well as physically, we never charge for an initial case evaluation. For a free consultation, call us today at 1-803-454-1200, or fill out our convenient and confidential online case evaluation form.

Is a Brachial Plexus Injury Such as Erb’s Palsy Considered a Disability?

If your child has a brachial plexus birth injury (BPBI) such as Erb’s palsy, Klumpke’s palsy, or global palsy, they could be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSI provides monthly stipends to low-income persons who are blind or disabled. If SSI is provided to a child, they become eligible (upon review of their status) for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) once they turn 18, or, if still considered low income and disabled, they may remain on SSI.

Both SSI and SSDI are run by the Social Security Administration. However, SSI is funded by general funds, not Social Security funds. SSDI is paid from Social Security funds.

I Thought Social Security Was Just for Seniors?

The Social Security we know as retirement benefits is for those 62 and over. But SSI and SSDI are different. People can collect an SSI or SSDI benefit three ways:

  • Disabled children (under 18) from families considered low income can collect SSI until the age of 18. At 18, they might be eligible to collect adult SSI benefits. Children who receive SSI are also eligible for Medicaid.
  • Children younger than 18 (19 if a full-time student) whose families have too much income to qualify for SSI may be able to collect on a parent’s Social Security record or status. If they have a parent currently receiving disability income (SSDI) or Social Security retirement benefits, or had a parent who earned sufficient Social Security credits to qualify before dying, the child may be able to collect benefits regardless of disability status.
  • Disabled adults between 18 and 22 who became disabled before turning 22 can collect disability income if one parent is collecting SSDI or Social Security retirement benefits, or if they had a parent who earned sufficient Social Security credits to qualify before dying.

Qualifying for SSI/SSDI with Brachial Plexus Birth Injuries

If it is severe enough, BPBI can be considered a disability under SSI/SSDI rules. Although BPBI usually affects only one upper limb, and therefore may not be not severe enough to qualify, BPBI combined with other impairments, or BPBI that affects both upper limbs, may qualify:

  • For BPBI affecting both sides of the body, “motor dysfunction due to any neurological disorder” (disability listing 111.06) may apply. Dysfunction must affect two extremities.
  • Another disability listing, 101.08, “soft tissue injuries of an upper or lower extremity,” is a possibility for qualifying.
  • Other listings of other impairments may also strengthen your case.

Complete medical documentation of the disability is crucial. You need to have both medical findings and diagnosis along with records that demonstrate the development and level of functioning by the child. If the child is under the age of three, it is especially important to have documentation regarding the child’s achievement, or lack thereof, of normal developmental milestones.

Qualifying for, and achieving, SSI or SSDI benefits for your child can be a difficult and time-consuming process involving complicated governmental statutes. It is often advisable to seek legal counsel when disability questions are at issue.

Family-owned. Family-focused.

Is your child suffering from a brachial plexus birth injury such as Erb’s palsy or a global palsy? At the Louthian Law Firm, we put our expertise to work for you by offering the personal service and understanding that families in crisis need. If your child has experienced a birth injury, it is important that you speak with us. We always offer free consultations with no further obligation on your part. To schedule your case evaluation, call the Louthian Law Firm today toll free at (803) 454-1200 or use our online contact form. Louthian Law Firm. When life goes wrong, we fight for what’s right.