A new wave of Abilify lawsuits was filed as Bristol-Myers Squibb’s latest antipsychotic medication was found to increase the risk of type-2 diabetes in children.

According to a 2013 study published in the clinical journal JAMA Psychiatry, the overprescription of antipsychotic drugs in kids and adolescents is linked to a heightened risk of developing a metabolic disorder. The researchers analyzed data coming from almost 30,000 subjects between 6 and 24 years who took one of these medications. They found that their chance of developing diabetes during the first year of treatment was 3-times higher than normal. In particular, aripiprazole was among the most dangerous ones, with a 2.2-fold increased risk. A second study confirmed these findings, showing how youths treated with this type of psychiatric drugs were 60% more likely to be diagnosed with this condition, especially female ones with a 4.4-fold increased risk.

A later study published in 2016, reached the same conclusions as well. The exposure to antipsychotic medications exposed youths to an unnecessary cumulative risk of gaining weight and developing diabetes mellitus. Given the serious adverse reaction and the associated dangers, the researchers suggested caution in using these medications in younger populations. They concluded that the safety and efficacy of drugs such as aripiprazole had to be monitored proactively.

Several Abilify children diabetes claims have been added to the already existing Multi-District Litigation (MDL No. 2734) in the Northern District of Florida. The plaintiff Cheyenne Beth Confer, is a 21-year old woman who allegedly gained 30 pounds in just six months after she started taking the prescription drug. She was only 15 when she started treatment, and according to her complaint, the drug was responsible for causing her diabetes. Since this condition is permanent, her lawyers are seeking compensation for all her long-term medical expenses, as well as psychological distress and physical damage.

In her claim, she alleged that  Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka American Pharmaceutical Inc. failed to warn the public about this potential danger, and only cared for their profits when they aggressively marketed Abilify off-label to pediatric patients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in fact, never granted approval for use in younger patients. The drugmaker, however, kept advertising it as safe, and even resorted to a massive kickback scheme to induce many physicians and other healthcare providers into prescribing aripiprazole to adolescents and elderly people.

The pharmaceutical company already paid a $515 million settlement back in 2007 to wrap up these accusations, and it’s now facing a large wave of individual lawsuits centralized in the above-mentioned mass tort.

Article by Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D.