Calgary woman part of class-action lawsuit against drug maker
A Calgary woman is one of hundreds of Canadians who said their lives were negatively impacted by the drug Abilify and are taking part in a class-action lawsuit.
Christina Milisic was prescribed the drug in 2013 to help with hallucinations and paranoia, but instead of relief, she quickly noticed strange new behaviors that she couldn’t control, especially gambling.
“It was casual at first and it increased to a daily, full-time job basically, and I lost upwards of $400,000 and had to declare bankruptcy,” she said. “It wasn't just the gambling, it was the shopping, it was the dining out, the travelling, seven major trips within a year and a half.”
Her life turned upside down and she ended up losing her fiancé along with all of her money. In the end, the mental illness she was being treated for got even worse.
Milisic joined hundreds of other Canadians who had similar experiences after they began using the drug.
“The difficulty is when you are dealing with a drug that effects brain chemistry there can be complications,” said Clint Docken, a lawyer representing complainants in the case. “We see clients who unfortunately get involved in certain types of behavior that they are not used to and that behavior gets out of control and it can lead to disastrous consequences.”
The class-action lawsuit is asking for millions of dollars in compensation, but more importantly, a change in how the drug is handled.
“One of the things that class actions can affect is behavior modification and we certainly in the past have been involved in situations where drugs companies have voluntarily removed drugs from the market because of the risk from the use of those drugs,” said Docken.
Months after Milisic stopped taking Abilify in 2015 the drug company added a new label warning of uncontrollable gambling and sexuality. In the United States the new label also includes compulsive spending and eating. Milisic said more needs to be done.
“I would like to see the warning label include all the compulsive behaviors that I experienced, I would like to see medical professionals being educated with all of these effects and monitoring their patients and being very cautious about the outcome of this medication,” she said.
The class-action suit is in the early stages and could take years to complete.