A legal fight may decide whether a drug triggers compulsive behavior

A lawsuit filed in 2016 claimed the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole (Abilify—Bristol-Myers Squibb, Otsuka) caused compulsive behavior. The suit contends that the companies knew or should have known it could create such urges, and did not adequately warn the thousands of people in the United States who use the medication each year.

A lawsuit filed in 2016 claimed the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole (Abilify—Bristol-Myers Squibb, Otsuka) caused compulsive behavior. The suit contends that the companies knew or should have known it could create such urges, and did not adequately warn the thousands of people in the United States who use the medication each year. Hundreds more people have since sued the companies, claiming that the drug caused them to gamble, eat, or have sex compulsively. FDA signaled its own concern in a 2016 safety warning. "We have people who have lost their retirement accounts, spent their children’s college funds, blown through a lifetime of savings," said Gary Wilson, an attorney with Robins Kaplan, a firm representing some of the plaintiffs. Scientists have not figured out how, exactly, a drug might trigger compulsive behavior. Psychiatrists say that even if Abilify does have a role, it is probably just part of the explanation, since millions of people take the drug without experiencing such problems. The lawsuits have all been lumped together, and the case is presided over by Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the Northern District Court of Florida. Rodgers has ordered the thousands of plaintiffs and the drug makers to work out a framework for a global settlement by September 1. At the same time, the court is working to pick a new group of cases to move to trial if a settlement cannot be reached.