By Susan Engstrom
In a multi-district litigation relating to the anti-psychotic medication Abilify®, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd., and Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. settled claims brought by patients in three suits alleging that the drug causes harmful side-effects such as compulsive gambling. According to the Florida federal court overseeing the MDL, the parties resolved their dispute as a result of a successful mediation with a settlement master. The court ordered the drug companies to pay the settlement proceeds to the patients within 30 days, and the patients, in turn, were ordered to execute full releases (In re: Abilify (Aripiprazole) Products Liability Litigation, April 28, 2018, Rodgers, M.).
Complaints. The three settling patients had sought damages resulting from the companies’ alleged wrongful conduct in connection with the development, design, testing, labeling, packaging, promoting, advertising, marketing, distribution, and selling of Abilify, which is used to treat depression, bipolar I disorder, and schizophrenia. Among other things, the patients asserted that Bristol-Myers Squibb and the Otsuka companies failed to warn consumers about the risk of compulsive gambling or other compulsive behaviors.
One of the patients specifically alleged that he developed compulsive gambling behaviors as a result of taking Abilify and has suffered the following losses: monetary losses in excess of $75,000; loss of financial stability; and other mental, physical, and economic loss. His complaint asserted that the injurious impact of Abilify on his brain constituted a physical injury and that he has suffered—and will continue to suffer—neuropsychiatric and physical injury, emotional distress, harm, and economic loss. His complaint included causes of action for strict liability (design, manufacturing, and warning) and negligence. Another patient alleged the same injuries. According to her complaint, she had taken Abilify from approximately 2009 until 2014. The third patient, who had ingested the drug from approximately 2003 until 2016, alleged that she suffered mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, medical expenses, loss of earnings, gambling losses, and other economic losses. Her complaint asserted that these losses were either permanent or continuing and that she will suffer them in the future.
Order. The court ordered the parties to file a stipulation of dismissal within 10 days of the releases being executed. It also suspended all discovery and pretrial deadlines, and stayed the proceedings. The court noted, however, that the cases will remain on the trial docket until the stipulated dismissals are filed.
The case is No. 3:16md2734.
Attorneys: Bryan Frederick Aylstock (Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, PLLC) and Kelly K. McNabb (Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP) for Plaintiffs. Anand Agneshwar (Arnold & Porter LLP) and Andrea W. Trento (Hogan Lovells US LLP) for Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Eric M. Goldstein (Winston & Strawn LLC) and Hal K. Litchford (Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC) for Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc. and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co Ltd.
Companies: Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.; Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.; Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co Ltd.
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