Abilify and
Compulsive Gambling

Abilify (aripiprazole) is an atypical antipsychotic drug, approved by the FDA in 2002 to treat bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia. It is often used in tandem with other medications to treat major depression. Abilify was developed by Otsuka Pharmaceutical and marketed in collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb. It was the top-selling pharmaceutical drug in the U.S. in 2013 and 2014. A generic version was approved on April 28, 2015.

Case Quick Facts

The Problem

Abilify is chemically classified as a partial and full dopamine agonist. Agonists activate receptors in the brain, whereas antagonists block receptors.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a large role in the brain’s reaction to reward and pleasure. Aripiprazole works by partially blocking dopamine at the D2 receptor and by more strongly stimulating the D3 dopamine receptor. This effect of partially blocking D2 and stimulating D3 results in the D3 receptor being overstimulated. The over-stimulation of the D3 receptor can cause compulsive behaviors, including gambling, eating, shopping, and sexual behavior.

The Injuries

Abilify can cause compulsive behavior in many forms, including gambling, eating, sexual behavior, and shopping. GoldenbergLaw is investigating cases where an individual’s primary loss is sustained through compulsive gambling. Losses from gambling are both quantifiable and catastrophic/life-altering and can result in:

  • Drained bank accounts and 401ks
  • Damaged personal and professional relationships
  • Home foreclosures
  • Bankruptcies
  • Criminal charges
The Defendant(s)

The defendants in Abilify cases are Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., and Bristol Myers Squibb Co.


On October 3, 2016, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation consolidated pretrial proceedings for Abilify cases pending across the country. The resultant Abilify multidistrict litigation (MDL) is currently before Judge M. Casey Rodgers in the Northern District of Florida. GoldenbergLaw’s Marlene Goldenberg has been appointed to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee for the MDL and serves as the litigation’s Discovery Liaison.

GoldenbergLaw Can Help

Because GoldenbergLaw’s Marlene Goldenberg is so closely connected to Abilify litigation matters, our firm is the ideal choice for those looking to recover damages. Get in touch with our team to learn more about how we can help you navigate litigation.

Do I Qualify?

Free Consultations

If you or a loved one suffered from pathological gambling while taking Abilify, please call an Abilify lawyer on our team today and get a free consultation. If you’re considering filing for an Abilify gambling addiction lawsuit, our team can walk you through your legal options.

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Key Concept: Challenge, Dechallenge, Rechallenge

It can sometimes be difficult to identify whether an individual’s gambling is caused by Abilify. The best way to do this is to look for the challenge, dechallenge, rechallenge pattern in a person’s gambling habits.

Challenge: Patient begins taking Abilify as part of their medication regimen.

Resultant Experience: Patient experiences compulsive gambling behaviors that are atypical of his/her personality.

Dechallenge: Patient stops taking Abilify.

Resultant Experience: A positive dechallenge occurs when the compulsive gambling fades or disappears once the patient stops taking Abilify.

Rechallenge: Following the fading or disappearance of compulsive gambling behavior, the patient begins taking Abilify again.

Resultant Experience: A positive rechallenge occurs when the patient experiences similar compulsive gambling behaviors once he/she begins taking Abilify again.

*Both a +Dechallenge and +Rechallenge are considered evidence that a drug caused a particular effect.

See FDA, Guidance for Industry: Good Pharmacovigilance Practices and Pharmacoepidemiological Assessment, at 6 (Mar. 2005), available at; Federal Judicial Center, Reference Manual on Scientific Evidence, at 605 (Nat’l Academies Press ed., 3d ed. 2011), available at

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November 2012: European Medicines Agency Warning

In 2012, the European Medicines Agency required the manufacturers of Abilify to update the warning label to reflect reports of pathological gambling reported by patients, “regardless of whether these patients had a prior history of gambling.” The label goes on to warn, “Patients with a prior history of pathological gambling may be at increased risk and should be monitored carefully.” [1]

November 2015: Health Canada Warning

On November 2, 2015, Health Canada issued a safety alert, stating that Abilify may cause “an increased risk of impulsive behaviors of pathological gambling and hypersexuality.”[2] Health Canada indicated that this warning was being issued after a Health Canada safety review identified an increased risk of both conditions. The safety review also found that when patients stopped taking Abilify, the compulsive behaviors stopped.

May 2016: United States Food and Drug Administration Drug Safety Communication

The manufacturers of Abilify failed to warn Americans about Abilify’s potential to cause compulsive gambling despite the warnings in Canada and Europe.

On May 3, 2016 the FDA required that a warning be added to the Abilify label in the U.S, stating that “compulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex have been reported with the use of the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole.”[3] The warning directed patients and caregivers to monitor experiences of uncontrollable behavior, such as compulsive gambling, while taking Abilify. The warning also specifies that doctors should notify patients of these additional risks and specifically ask about any new or increasing urges while they are being treated with the drug.

The FDA also noted that the types of compulsive behaviors caused by aripiprazole extended further than just pathological gambling and could affect anyone who takes Abilify.[4]

2016: United States Food and Drug Administration Drug Safety Communication

On August 23, 2016 an additional update was made to the Abilify label citing pathological gambling as the main adverse experience Abilify patients may encounter while taking the drug. The updated label also notes: “… urges were reported to have stopped when the dose was reduced or the medication was discontinued. Compulsive behaviors may result in harm to the patient and others if not recognized.”

Studies and Reports

Scientific literature has identified dopamine as a potential cause of pathological gambling for years.

Chau et al., The Neural Circuitry of Reward and Its Relevance to Psychiatric Disorders

Studies and Reports

The European Medicines Agency declined to approve Abilify as an add-on treatment for depression because of concerns about its efficacy for that indication.

European Medicines Agency, Withdrawal Assessment Report for Abilify (Jan. 20, 2010)

Studies and Reports

According to a rigorous study by the Cochrane Collaboration, there is limited evidence that Abilify leads to symptom reduction when added to antidepressants, and side effects are more frequent under Abilify augmentation treatment.

K. Komossa et al., Second-Generation Antipsychotics for Major Depressive Disorder and Dysthymia (Review)

Why Choose GoldenbergLaw?

If you think that your next move should be a gambling addiction lawsuit, our team should be the first you call. We have years of experience working with not only Abilify cases but all sorts of drug and medical cases. Rest assured that should you partner with us, your case will be handled by a knowledgeable and dedicated staff.

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