Bristol-Meyers Squibb, the manufacturer of Abilify, has agreed to set up a settlement fund for complaints levied against them in 41 states and Washington DC in the amount of $19.1 million. The Abilify settlement funds are to settle allegations against Bristol-Meyers Squibb using deceptive marketing practices for Abilify. Specifically, Bristol-Meyers Squibb is using the Abilify settlement to quiet the allegations of breaking federal law by promoting off-label marketing practices.
What Is Off-Label Marketing?
Off-label marketing is a practice used by pharmacy companies to promote a medication for reasons for which it is not approved by the FDA. In regards to the Abilify settlement, it is an allegation that Bristol-Meyers Squibb marketed their drug, Abilify, to treat conditions that the drug was not approved to treat. All though off-label use of medication is an extremely common practice, it is against federal law for pharmaceutical companies to market the drug for off-label use. This federal law exists in an effort to protect consumers.
The History of the Abilify Lawsuits
The Abilify settlement isn’t something that happened overnight. Abilify was approved by the FDA to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in 2002. Although many patients received relief from their symptoms, Abilify was causing some devastating side effects in many people. Several studies linked the use of Abilify to compulsive behaviors. This includes compulsive gambling, compulsive sexual behavior, and compulsive shopping. The side effects ruined the lives of many people.
Although the side effects were reported to the FDA, Abilify remained on the market. Bristol-Meyers Squibb downplayed these terrible side effects. They continued to make $2 billion each year from drug sales in the United States.
Expanded use of Abilify began to become more common. Although the FDA hadn’t approved it for use in individuals on the Autism spectrum, people with Tourette’s, dementia, and major depressive disorder. As mentioned earlier, off-label use of medications isn’t uncommon. It’s also not illegal for doctors to try off-label use for their patients if they believe it could help. However, Bristol-Meyers Squibb began to encourage the off-label use of the medication; and that is against the law. In 2007, Bristol-Meyers Squibb began pushing their drug in nursing homes for the use of dementia (for which it is not approved). Shortly after, Bristol-Meyers was investigated by the Department of Justice.
However, the investigation launched by the Department of Justice was only for the off-label marketing (much like the Abilify settlement funds). It had nothing to do with the continued negative side effects. In fact, there are pending lawsuits against Abilify for the compulsive side effects.
Questions about the Abilify Settlement?
If you have questions about the Abilify settlement or if you think you may have a legal claim against Abilify for compulsive behavior, contact Goldwater Law Firm. We focus on helping people just like you who are hurt after they take prescriptions. Our lawyers provide compassionate and zealous legal representation to help our clients get what they deserve for their injuries. Call Goldwater Law Firm to schedule your free case evaluation and to have your questions about the Abilify settlement answered.