Judge M. Casey Rodgers presiding over the centralized Abilify litigation has set three dates for the first set of bellwether trials. The first trial will begin on June 18, followed by the second on August 6, and the third on August 27 this summer, set for the federal court in Pensacola. Judge Rodgers has favored an aggressive bellwether schedule from the very beginning of this centralized litigation. On the same note, these lawsuits were chosen for convenience as not only were they in the best position to go to trial early but were also filed in the same district where the MDL was consolidated, thereby favoring a speedier trial schedule.
The lawsuits were centralized in October 2016 as MDL No. 2734 (In Re: Abilify Compulsive Behavior Products Liability Litigation) in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, where nearly 600 product liability lawsuits are pending against defendant drugmakers Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceuticals.
Allegations include failure to warn the patients and the medical community to look out for symptoms of uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eating, shop and engage in a risky sexual activity. Plaintiffs state that they could have escaped from the effects of gambling losses had earlier warnings been provided to them.
As per the mid-March proposal, the plaintiffs have requested the next round of bellwether cases to be selected from both Florida and California, owing to the fact that the largest number of complaints are filed here. Plaintiffs have also requested for the cases where Abilify was prescribed for major depressive disorder or depression and also on cases that involve gambling addiction, as opposed to other compulsive behaviors linked to Abilify, such as compulsive shopping and sex addiction.
The defendants’ proposal calls for a random selection of 25 claims from the MDL pool so as not to consciously include any broad category and have requested the court to be fair.
Also, Superior Court Judge James De Luca is presiding over the cases filed in the parallel state court litigation established in New Jersey for which trials are expected to begin by the end of this year.
The number of Abilify lawsuits filed across the nation are on the rise. Reports are also in that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) received at least 30 reports of compulsive gambling, as well as 24 reports of other impulsive behaviors, in connection with Abilify from 2005 through 2015.