Judge Finds Testimony of Plaintiffs’ Experts Reliable
On January 22, Chief Judge M. Casey Rodgers ruled that plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions that use of Abilify can cause uncontrollable behaviors are “scientifically reliable” and admissible (with very minor exceptions) in the MDL trials scheduled for later this year. Specifically, Judge Rodgers found that plaintiffs’ experts’ argument that “Abilify can cause impulse control problems through its effects on dopamine neurotransmission in the brain” was consistent with findings by the FDA and even Bristol-Myers Squibb’s own studies on the drug’s mechanism of action. Judge Rodgers also denied the Defendants’ motion for summary judgment as to general causation issues.
Defendants’ Challenge to Plaintiffs’ Experts’ Opinions
Defendants challenged the admissibility of plaintiffs’ experts’ testimony on general causation, claiming the expert opinions provided were unreliable under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Further, they contended that plaintiffs failed to provide “reliable scientific evidence” demonstrating a statistically significant association between Abilify and compulsive behaviors.
Scientifically Reliable Testimonies
In her order, Judge Rodgers found plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions sufficiently reliable under Daubert and concluded, “Plaintiffs have satisfied their burden to demonstrate that a genuine dispute of material fact exists as to whether Abilify can cause uncontrollable impulsive behaviors in individuals taking the drug.”
Judge Rodgers’ holding that plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions met the Daubert standard was based in large part on the fact that those opinions are supported by peer-reviewed, published scientific literature as well as sound scientific reasoning. In addition, the Plaintiffs’ experts’ opinions are consistent with the FDA’s assessment of Abilify.
Bellwether Trials start in June
Discovery is now ending, and the first Abilify bellwether trial will start in mid-June of this year.