Do you know what an atypical antipsychotic medication is? These medications are supposed to have less side-effects than traditional antipsychotic meds, and Abilify was considered one of the best. In 2013, Bristol-Myers Squibb—manufacturer of Abilify—sold $6.4 billion of the drug. It was the top-selling medication of that year, but there were some problems on the horizon.
The Problem That’s Going to Cost Bristol-Myers Squibb $19 Million
In 2002, Abilify was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat adults with schizophrenia. It would later be approved to treat bipolar disorder and other conditions, but at the time most healthcare professionals thought it had few side effects. That soon changed as studies revealed that some people taking the drug would have uncontrollable urges. They would binge eat, go on wild shopping sprees, gamble, and become sex addicts.
These compulsions could often become destructive, and Bristol-Myers Squibb soon had to deal with many lawsuits from patients and sometimes bystanders caught up in the unsuspected side-effects. However, this was only the beginning of the manufacturer’s problems as states began to investigate the company’s marketing methods.
A multi-state coalition found that Bristol-Myers Squibb had downplayed the side-effects of Abilify to doctors. The company also promoted off-label uses of the drug to treat illnesses not approved by the FDA. This led the District of Colombia and 42 states to filing a lawsuit against the pharmaceutical giant, but it took several years to finally reach its conclusion.
The makers of Abilify will stop promoting off-label uses of the drug for five years, they will not be allowed to compensate doctors for attending their promotional functions, and they will have to pay $19.5 million to the states that filed this lawsuit.
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