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Abilify Test Cases Heading to Trial After Settlement Deadline Passes


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Stairs leading to court house

A federal court’s deadline to work out a settlement in 1,600 lawsuits over antipsychotic drug Abilify has passed. No settlement has been announced. But both sides continue work on narrowing a long list of lawsuits into a series of test cases that could go to trial.

The FDA approved Abilify to treat schizophrenia in 2002, but its list of approved uses has grown over the years.

Conditions Abilify Treats

  • Autism-associated irritability
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Tourette’s disorder

Hundreds of people claimed in Abilify lawsuits they suffered compulsive behavior after taking the drug. Some of the lawsuits claim people lost their life savings due to the drug’s side effects.

They claimed Abilify side effects caused them to compulsively gamble, eat or spend money. Others said they suffered involuntary movement, hypersexual activity and suicidal behavior.

In 2016, a federal panel combined 22 lawsuits over Abilify into a multidistrict litigation (MDL). MDLs let federal courts combine similar cases to move more efficiently through the legal process. As of August 2018, there were 1,665 Abilify lawsuits in the MDL.

The drug’s manufacturers agreed to settle three bellwether lawsuits for undisclosed amounts just before they were scheduled for trial in April 2018. Bellwether trials are test cases in MDLs. They gauge how legal arguments on both sides may play out at trial. Their outcomes can cause people to drop lawsuits or defendants to agree to settlements.

Two Directions for Abilify Lawsuits

Abilify manufacturers Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Bristol-Myers Squibb settled the three Abilify compulsive gambling lawsuits. Just days later, U.S. Chief District Judge M. C. Rodgers, ordered attorneys to hammer out a plan for reaching a global settlement by Sept. 1.

The deadline passed without an announcement of an agreement from either side. But the court was already pushing ahead with plans for more bellwether trials.

In June 2018, the court ordered new cases selected for future bellwethers. Starting with 100 potential cases, the court narrowed the list to just 40 by August 2018. Attorneys on both sides are in a process of selecting which cases to keep or remove from the list.

The judge ordered that they narrow the list to just 10 cases by December 2018. Some of those cases could go to trial sometime in 2019 if there is no settlement.

More Abilify Lawsuits Await State Trials

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka face more Abilify lawsuits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey state courts.

New Jersey combined 42 state Abilify lawsuits into a multicounty litigation in May 2018. Multicounty litigations are New Jersey’s state version of federal MDLs.

In August 2018, a judge combined 17 Abilify cases in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Terry Turner
Written By Terry Turner Writer

Terry Turner has been writing articles and producing news broadcasts for more than 25 years. He covers FDA policy, proton pump inhibitors, and medical devices such as hernia mesh, IVC filters, and hip and knee implants. An Emmy-winning journalist, he has reported on health and medical policy issues before Congress, the FDA and other federal agencies. Some of his qualifications include:

  • American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and The Alliance of Professional Health Advocates member
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Health Literacy certificates
  • Original works published or cited in Washington Examiner, MedPage Today and The New York Times
  • Appeared as an expert panelist on hernia mesh lawsuits on the BBC
Edited By

7 Cited Research Articles writers follow rigorous sourcing guidelines and cite only trustworthy sources of information, including peer-reviewed journals, court records, academic organizations, highly regarded nonprofit organizations, government reports and interviews with qualified experts. Review our editorial policy to learn more about our process for producing accurate, current and balanced content.

  1. U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. (2018, August 15). MDL Statistics Report. Retrieved from
  2. U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. (2016, October 3). MDL No. 2734 Transfer Order. In re: Abilify (Aripiprazole) Products Liability Litigation. Retrieved from
  3. U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division. (2018, August 10). Order Establishing Second Group of Potential Discovery & Trial Pool Cases. In re: Abilify (Aripiprazole) Products Liability Litigation. Retrieved from
  4. U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division. (2018, May 2). Global Settlement Order No. 1. In re: Abilify (Aripiprazole) Products Liability Litigation. Retrieved from
  5. U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division. (2018, June 22). Order Regarding Selection of the Second Group of Potential Trial Cases. In re: Abilify (Aripiprazole) Products Liability Litigation. Retrieved from
  6. U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division. 2018, April 28). Order. In re: Abilify (Aripiprazole) Products Liability Litigation. Retrieved from
  7. Malfitano, N. (2018, August 20). Philly’s Next Mass Tort? 17 Plaintiffs Claim Ability Caused Them to Compulsively Gamble, Shop and Have Sex. Penn Record. Retrieved from
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