Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Compulsive gambling, sex from popular drug? Answer to 100s of lawsuits looms

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica |

Failure to warn? —

After three bellwether cases settle, hundreds near deadline for “global settlement.”

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Bottles of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. Abilify brand medication sits on a pharmacy shelf in Princeton, Illinois, on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.

Makers of the blockbuster drug Abilify have until September 1 to come up with a way to settle more than 800 lawsuits that claim the anti-psychotic and anti-depressive drug spurred uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex—all without any warning.

The deadline for that “global settlement” was ordered recently by Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the Northern District Court of Florida, which is handling all the lawsuits in a lumped process called multidistrict litigation (MDL).

Judge Rodgers made the call after Abilify’s makers, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka, settled three lawsuits from the MDL individually earlier this year. All three were settled for undisclosed sums. Those cases had been carefully selected by the court and used as so-called bellwether trials. That is, they were test cases for the rest, thus they set a precedent for settlement. In the event that Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka fail to come up with a way to settle the rest by the deadline, the court will move a fresh batch of lawsuits from the MDL to trial.

Either way, the litigation will likely provide patients with a resolution that, so far, drug researchers have not been able to give them.

There’s currently limited scientific data on whether or how the popular drug actually causes such compulsive behaviors—and in whom. Getting such data would likely require massive, resource-intensive clinical trials. Yet thousands of patients who have already taken the drug have linked its use to out-of-character behaviors and impulses that they say wreaked devastation on their lives and finances.

Hexbyte – Tech News – Ars Technica | Sex, drugs, and casinos

In one case, highlighted recently by Stat, Denise Miley says she became a compulsive gambler virtually overnight. She started taking the drug for depression and anxiety in December 2014. Quickly after, the devoted mother of four began sneaking away from work, her kids’ sporting events, and gatherings with friends to hit up a nearby casino. To satisfy her intense urges, she secretly tapped her family’s bank accounts and retirement funds and took out a loan for $50,000. And that was all within the brief six-month period she was on Abilify. Her interest in gambling abruptly vanished after she landed in a treatment facility that took her off the drug.

In a lawsuit originally filed in January 2016 (PDF)—which is now part of the MDL and subject to the “global settlement” due in September—she and her husband accuse Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka of wrongful conduct and negligence that led to losses in excess of $75,000.

In another case, highlighted by the Daily Beast, a married woman became hooked on sex and shopping while on the drug. “I started becoming obsessed with sexual fantasies and with taking pictures of myself to send to a few select ‘friends,’” she wrote in a letter to her lawyer. “I

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