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How Off-Label Use of Prescription Drugs Hurts Patients

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Even FDA-approved drugs can be dangerous to the consumer, especially if those drugs are being prescribed for conditions they are not approved to treat.

Examples of drugs being prescribed for off-label use make the news from time to time, like a recent story about pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, which recently settled a case against it for $19.5 million. The company was the producer of the drug Abilify, an antipsychotic drug used to treat conditions like major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The company was accused of marketing Abilify to treat seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, two uses the drug was never approved for.


This accusation was not the first against Bristol-Myers Squibb for marketing off-label drug use. In fact, this wasn’t the first accusation against the off-label use of the very same drug. In 2007, Bristol-Myers Squibb paid $515 million to settle federal charges of illegally marketing Abilify to child psychiatrists, pediatric specialists and nursing homes.

The drug received a “black box” warning stating that elderly patients treated with Abilify have an increased risk of death and compulsive behaviors, but that did not stop the company from marketing the drug toward seniors.

In addition to the risk of death, Abilify use can lead to compulsive behaviors like binge eating, hypersexual behavior and gambling. According to the lawsuit, the company failed to warn users of these side effects and sold a defective drug.

Psalm 143:8, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.”

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