Abilify (aripiprazole) is an antipsychotic medication used to treat a variety of mental health disorders. Manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb and marketed by the Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company, the popular drug is widely used in the United States, with more than $6.4 million in sales. Abilify was the top-selling prescription drug in 2013 and in 2015, physicians wrote more than 1.5 million prescriptions for it to help with the treatment of major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses.
Although studies show that Abilify can help some patients manage their mental health conditions, more recent research reveals a link between using the drug and developing compulsive self-destructive behaviors, including pathological gambling. Read on to learn more about the strange behavioral side effects associated with Abilify, as well as what you can do if you've experienced unusual compulsions while taking the drug.
Who Uses Abilify?
Abilify can be used to treat mental illness in adult and pediatric patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Abilify for the treatment of:
- Schizophrenia in adults and adolescents ages 13 to 17
- Manic or mixed episode bipolar disorder in adults and pediatric patients ages 10 to 17
- Irritability associated with autism spectrum disorders in children ages 6 to 17
- Tourette's Disorder in pediatric patients ages 6 to 18
The drug can also be prescribed to adults with major depressive disorder who did not respond to antidepressant treatment alone.
Aripiprazole—which is sold under the names Abilify, Abilify Maintena®, and Aristada®—is an atypical antipsychotic or second generation antipsychotic (SGA) that manipulates certain chemicals in the brain in order to maintain a healthy balance. Whereas other types of SGAs work by blocking the brain's serotonin and dopamine receptors, Abilify is able to increase or decrease serotonin and dopamine levels to achieve the desired chemical balance.
Abilify Side Effects Include Metabolic Problems and Compulsive Gambling
Like most popular prescription drugs, Abilify has side effects. The drug's manufacturers warn that Abilify may cause serious side effects in some patients, such as:
- Cerebrovascular problems (stokes in elderly patients)
- Tardive dyskinesia (uncontrollable movements of the face, tongue or body)
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (characterized by confusion, high fever, sweating, and changes in pulse/heart rate and blood pressure)
- Metabolic problems (unusual weight gain, high blood sugar and diabetes, increased cholesterol and triglycerides levels)
- Decreased blood pressure
- Trouble swallowing
- Low white blood cell count
- Difficulty regulating body temperature
However, one of the most disturbing side effects associated with Abilify is its ability to cause uncontrollable urges in some patients. In May 2016, the FDA warned doctors and patients of recent research that showed a link between taking Abilify and compulsive self-destructive behavior, such as binge eating, hypersexuality, shopping addiction, and pathological gambling.
Gambling is the most common uncontrollable impulse reported by patients on Abilify; it accounted for 164 of the 167 cases of impulsive behavior reported to the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) from 2002 to January 2016.
These behaviors can be extremely harmful to patients, creating serious health, relationship, and financial hardships. Fortunately, these dangerous and inappropriate behaviors usually stop after patients stop taking Abilify or have their dosage decreased, according to the FDA.
Did You Experience Side Effects While Taking Abilify?
If you or someone you love developed a compulsive gambling problem for the first time while taking Abilify, you may look at the mounting gambling debt and wonder if things will ever be the same. Don't let the chance to act pass you by—contact McGartland Law today to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss the details of your case, including whether you might be eligible to pursue compensation for damages. The talented legal team with McGartland Law has 30 years' experience handling injury cases nationwide, and is eager to discuss your potential Abilify lawsuit. Call today or complete our online contact form.