The prescription drug Abilify is prescribed for variety of mental illnesses, and has seen an uptick in popularity recently as a treatment for depression. However, this drug may not be the panacea it was promised to be. Abilify’s manufacturers, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Otsuka America, are facing multiple lawsuits.
A Brief History of Abilify
Abilify, also known by the generic name aripiprazole, belongs to a class of drugs known as “second-generation” or “atypical” antipsychotics and neuroleptics. This class of drug is a new generation of pharmaceuticals used to treat certain psychiatric and mental health disorders, including autism, bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia.
This new class of drug is supposed to carry fewer of the risky side effects of the traditional antipsychotic-type medications. However, with more widespread use of Abilify for off-label treatment, it’s becoming clear that there are unanticipated side effects that can potentially devastate the lives not only of patients, but of their families, too.
Abilify Side Effects
In May of 2016, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety announcement to warn patients and physicians about Abilify and a stunning new possible side effect: intense urges and compulsive behavior. This includes compulsive gambling, binge eating, shopping, and sexual urges. The patient may not recognize that he or she is even engaging in abnormal behaviors. Someone is in the grip of a compulsive binge will stop at nothing to keep on doing the activity that he or she has fixated on, to the point of financial and social ruin. Bank accounts are emptied, friends and families ignored and attempts to help are spurned.
How Abilify Might Cause Compulsive Behavior
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that’s responsible for risk and reward behavior, is the most likely culprit. Doctors and scientists aren’t clear about exactly how Abilify works in the body, but it is believed that it affects dopamine receptors. These receptors are part of the system in your brain that mediates feelings of enjoyment or pleasure, and when functioning properly, enable us to take pleasure in the enjoyable things we do. One way that Abilify may function is by causing an over-stimulation of this risk/reward pleasure system, resulting in an uncontrollable urge to engage in behaviors that can be harmful.
Recent studies have helped establish the link between Abilify and compulsive gambling, and the medical community has continued to gather further evidence. Data from the FDA shows that nearly 200 reports were made between 2002 and 2016 linking Abilify to compulsive behaviors. According to the FDA, these behaviors stopped when patients stopped taking Abilify.
In August of 2016, the manufacturer changed the labeling of this drug to indicate the potential for these side effects, but for those who have already suffered the consequences, it may be too late.
Dangerous Drug Lawsuits
Patients who have taken Abilify and engaged in damaging compulsive behaviors, especially compulsive gambling, may be able to engage the manufacturer in a lawsuit for failing to notify consumers of a potentially harmful side effect. Drug companies have a duty to make sure that the products they sell are safe and effective, and they also must warn consumers of the possible side effects so that they can make informed choices about the risks and benefits of any medication, therapy, or treatment. When a pharmaceutical company fails in this duty, it’s critical that those who have been hurt stand up and take the company to task.
If you or someone you love has been harmed by taking Abilify, you may be eligible for compensation from the manufacturer, and Wayne Wright LLP would like to hear from you today. We will stand up for your rights in court and fight against the big pharmaceutical companies on your behalf. Contact us today by calling 800-237-3334 for a free, no-obligation consultation about your case.