Big Pharma: Federal Courts in FL and NJ Pave Way for Abilify Trials
Paving the way for bellwether trials to begin sometime this summer, a federal district court in Florida denied a summary judgment motion by defendants Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Bristol-Myers Squibb, seeking to dismiss claims over harms allegedly caused by their anti-psychotic drug Abilify.
In the ruling, Federal District Court Judge M. Casey Rodgers rejected the drug makers’ attempts to have the have the Court disregard expert testimony and other evidence on which plaintiffs had relied in demonstrating general causation between the drug and the injuries alleged, which relate to claims that Abilify can cause compulsive behavior in those taking it. Judge Rodgers found that the evidence presented by plaintiffs met the legal standard of being “sound and reliable.”
There are currently over 600 different cases pending in the Florida multidistrict litigation (MDL), in which plaintiffs allege that the drug marketed as a treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder, and major depressive disorder caused some of those taking it to demonstrate destructive behaviors such as compulsively eating, gambling, shopping, and/or engaging in sexual activity. On March 13, Judge Rodgers announced that the first of three bellwether trials was scheduled to begin June 18.
Before the trial begins, one additional matter on which Judge Rodgers will have to rule is a motion brought by plaintiffs alleging that Ostuka destroyed relevant evidence in the form of business communications and that the company waited too long to report the fact of their destruction to the Court. The motion, brought in early February, sought sanctions—such as adverse inference—against Otsuka.
Meanwhile, similar claims continue to proceed in New Jersey state court, where a judge also rejected defendants’ attempts to have the cases dismissed by undermining plaintiffs’ evidence. The first trials in the New Jersey state cases are scheduled to begin in October.
Have you or a loved one been injured by a prescription drug or medical device? The experienced team of expert attorneys at TheLawFirm.com are standing by now for a free consultation. Contact us today!
Plaintiffs Allege Destruction of Records
Plaintiffs alleging harms caused by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.’s anti-psychotic medication Abilify filed a motion in Florida District Court February 8 alleging that Otsuka had improperly destroyed important records relating to the case. Plaintiffs sought Court-imposed sanctions against the defendant company in response.
In a memorandum supporting their motion, plaintiffs contend that Otsuka violated its duty to preserve documents when it destroyed records spanning the time period 2002 to 2006. Plaintiffs argue that defendant had both a statutory duty to preserve as well as a duty imposed by the foreseeable threat of litigation.
Although publically released versions of the court documents have been redacted significantly to remove references to Otsuka’s specific destruction policies and other sensitive information, in non-redacted portions, plaintiffs reference “worrying” conduct on the part of defendant with respect to records created prior to 2007. Not only did Otsuka destroy these important documents, plaintiffs allege, but Otsuka waited far too long to disclose the fact of their destruction to the Court. Plaintiffs point to defendant’s strategy of seeking to limit the scope of its production to post-2007 materials, arguing that “[w]ith hingsight, one motivation could have been [Otsuka]’s undisclosed knowledge that the documents falling outside their production strategy had been destroyed.”
As sanction for the destruction of these records, plaintiffs seek from the Court an adverse inference instruction at trial. Plaintiffs also propose “lesser but meaningful sanctions” including the Court’s preventing Otsuka from pointing to the lack of early evidence as supporting its case. In the alternative, if the Court should decline to impose any sanctions, plaintiffs then seek permission to present evidence at trial of the alleged destruction of records.
The plaintiffs’ cases against Otsuka include product liability and fraud claims relating to alleged side effects of the drug Abilify, which has been associated with the onset of compulsive behaviors in patients. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Abilify as a treatment for patients suffering from bipolar I disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder.
Have you or a loved one exhibited compulsive behaviors or other serious side effects while taking the drug Abilify? Contact the expert attorneys at TheLawFirm.com for a free consultation about your legal rights.
Court Documents Obtained Via Docketbird.com:Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Support of their Spoliation and Rule 37 Motion for Sanctions Against Defendant Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc.
Florida Court to Hear Abilify Gambling Addiction Cases
The U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Florida will begin hearing cases concerning the links between addictive gambling behavior and the anti-psychotic medication Abilify.
At issue in the Multi-District Litigation (MDL) case is whether Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceutical, the manufacturers of Abilify, manufactured an allegedly defective and/or dangerous drug, and whether the companies knowingly concealed information about Abilify’s risks from doctors and patients.
The Florida hearings are part of the discovery phase of the MDL case, and will take place in Tallahassee and Pensacola.
Abilify has been the subject of numerous complaints, nearly all of which focus on the drug’s unusual side effect: the alleged creation of addictive behavior: gambling, binge eating, compulsive shopping, and addictive sexual behaviors.
Abilify’s label contained no mention of these potential hazards until 2016, the same year in which the drug’s makers paid nearly $20 million to settle claims of unfair or deceptive trade practices concerning the marketing of Abilify.
Abilify earned the companies about $5.5 billion in sales in 2014.
If you’ve taken Abilify and have developed addictive behaviors, you may be entitled to be part of a lawsuit. The expert attorneys at TheLawFirm.com can help you with your case – call for a free consultation.