Bristol-Myers Squibb to pay $19.5 million to settle claims of pushing antipsychotic prescriptions for seniors

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Pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed to pay $19.5 million to settle allegations that it promoted use of the antipsychotic Abilify in seniors, despite its known risks, multiple state attorney generals announced Thursday.

The multi-state settlement, which included 42 states as well as Washington, D.C., is the result of an investigation into Bristol-Myers Squibb's marketing use of the drug in certain groups, such as seniors and children, that had not been approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.

The company allegedly promoted use of Abilify in older adults with symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's risk, despite its lack of FDA approval and the fact that it can increase the risk of death in some with dementia-linked psychosis. Abilify was given a “black box” label warning in 2005 by the FDA for its potential risk of premature death

Bristol-Myers Squibb said in a statement that it denies wrongdoing and has not marketed Abilify since 2013, but is still “pleased to put this matter behind us so that we can focus on making transformational medicines for patients battling serious diseases.”