As new Abilify lawsuits keep being filed every day, the discovery phase of the Multidistrict Litigation No. 2734 keeps moving forward. Judge James J. DeLuca is currently overseeing over the centralized cases, and just issued a lengthy order to set forth a list of decisions on multiple motions made by both defendants and plaintiffs.
During the pretrial proceedings, the court allowed defendants to keep both the clinical case reports and several categories of internal, non-public documents confidential. However, the expert reports and testimonies have, instead, to be redacted to determine what should remain confidential and what should be disclosed. Plaintiffs argued to include documents about other similar drugs, but the court ruled against this decision. Because of the inherent differences between aripiprazole and other allegedly similar medications, the judge ruled them as only marginally relevant.
Plaintiffs argued to include documents about other similar drugs, but the court ruled against this decision. Because of the inherent differences between aripiprazole and other allegedly similar medications, the judge ruled them as only marginally relevant. Plaintiffs’ attorneys also requested information about potential payment incentives or kickbacks paid by sales representatives to doctors who prescribed Abilify. The court agreed that defendants must provide this information, but limited discovery to just the individuals involved in the bellwether cases.
Abilify is a new generation antipsychotic medication that acts by balancing the levels of serotonin and dopamine inside the brain. Used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, the popular drug manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squbb (BMS) and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals was later found to be associated with a plethora of additional risks. Although the pharmaceutical companies never included any warning in the label about it, aripiprazole can cause a patient to lose control over his or her impulses. Subjects could then feel an irresistible urge to obtain pleasure in different ways, leading to self-harming behaviors such as compulsive gambling or shopping, sexual addiction and binge eating.
Although both Canadian and European regulatory agencies require the manufacturers to add a warning about these risks on the medication label, BMS and Otsuka never cared about alerting American patients. As the number of adverse reaction reports registered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) kept mounting, many victims of this medication’s side effects eventually decided to file a litigation to seek financial compensation. It is not infrequent, in fact, for people who took aripiprazole to lose consistent amounts of money after irrationally betting at casinos or during irrational shopping binges.
Bellwether cases have been set to be heard by DeLuca all across 2018. The first one in the selection has been scheduled in September 2018. Its results will shape future legal proceedings and will be used as a test to determine whether the defendants would choose to settle future cases before hearing.