Lawsuit Claims Abilify Sparks Sex, Gambling Addiction


A popular drug used to treat PTSD and depression comes with a myriad of severe side effects including sex addiction and compulsive gambling, but a new class action lawsuit claims that Americans were never informed.

The Daily Beast reported that thousands of patients have joined the lawsuit against Bristol Myers-Squibb and Otsuka, the drug makers beyond Abilify. Roughly 24 million Americans have been prescribed Ability since it first went to market in 2003.

In addition to the claims of compulsive gambling and sex, the lawsuit also claim that Otsuka and Bristol Myers-Squibb included warning labels the listing side effects of Abilify in Europe and Canada, but waited years before doing the same in the U.S. They were fully laid out by 2011, with a TV spot for Abilify released that year reciting a laundry list of severe side effects that included inducing suicide, seizures and comas, in addition to warning that the drug could be fatal for elderly people with diabetes or dementia.

“The drug triggers a pathological urge to gamble constantly, sometimes among persons with no previous interest,” said Thomas J. Moore, a senior scientist at Pennsylvania-based nonprofit Institute for Safe Medicine Practices. “It might be people starting to spend $300 a week on lottery tickets, and in other cases people will gamble away tens of thousands of dollars.

Moore published a paper in 2014 after reviewing 1,580 cases involving drugs similar to Abilify. He also cited effects including hypersexuality, pathological gambling and compulsive shopping. Moore noted the correlation between these drugs and the cited behaviors “were significant, the magnitude of the effects was large, and the effects were seen for all 6 dopamine receptor agonist drugs.”

Individual cases are also being filed against the makers of Abilify. Ohio natives Brad and Denise Miley claimed in their recent lawsuit that Denise became a compulsive gambler shortly after taking Abilify and burned through $75,000 of their savings, but lost her urge to gamble after discontinuing her use of the drug the following year.

The FDA has also taken action against the two drug makers. Last May, they ordered both companies to begin informing patients about the side effects of Abilify and include “compulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex” as potential outcomes on their labels.

Both Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb declined to comment to The Daily Beast, citing their policies regarding ongoing litigation.