Living with a mental illness can be debilitating and finding the right medication that treats your disorder is life changing. For those struggling with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, your doctor may have prescribed Abilify (aripiprazole) to help you to find emotional balance. Unfortunately, this medication has caused a variety of unforeseen side effects that are resulting in compulsive behaviors and poor decision making.
The History of Abilify
Abilify is known as a second generation antipsychotic (SGA) or atypical antipsychotic. In 1972, Professor Arvid Carlsson proposed that schizophrenia could possibly be managed by regulating dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. A common theory is that schizophrenia is the result of dopamine hyperactivity, so reducing this chemical could minimize the troubling effects of this disorder. Otsuka Pharmaceutical began research on dopamine autoreceptor agonists in the late 1970s which led to the creation of aripiprazole.
Abilify vs. Other Antipsychotics
Aripiprazole works differently than other antipsychotic medications in that past ones were “dopamine antagonists” and Abilify is a “dopamine system stabilizer”. Dopamine antagonists shut down dopamine – which have been linked to side effects involving movement disorders – while dopamine system stabilizers monitor the dopamine receptor strongly enough to reduce excess dopamine that causes psychosis (a hindered view of reality), while at the same time allowing enough mild dopamine-like activity to prevent movement disorders. Movement disorders are a big concern with dopamine antagonists, so many medical professionals were excited when Aripiprazole entered the market since it didn’t have this common side effect.
Abilify Lawsuits and Warnings
Since being approved by the FDA in 2002, Abilify has been under scrutiny for several reasons.
- Abilify was given a “black box warning” – the highest warning from the FDA – in 2006 for causing an increased risk of death in elderly patients who have dementia-related psychosis.
- In December 2016, the Bristol-Myers Squibb Company that marketed Abilify was fined $19.5 million for improperly marketing the drug to the elderly and children for off-label use. (Off label means that a drug is prescribed for a condition that it was not approved for by the FDA.)
- The Bristol-Myers Squibb Company was accused of minimizing and misrepresenting the risks linked to Abilify by overstating the findings of scientific studies and by not revealing limitations that affected the interpretation of the study’s results.
Abilify has had a history of deception and misrepresentation, and now it has found itself once again in the center of a legal battle. Many patients and doctors are wondering why Abilify wasn’t tested thoroughly enough to know that it has the risk of causing compulsive behaviors. As a new type of drug that works in a unique way from previous drugs, it should have been tested more carefully. Secondly, why wasn’t the public made aware of these potentially destructive behaviors? The pharmaceutical company was aware of these risks and warning labels were put on the medications sold in Europe and Canada. However, patients in the U.S. were kept in the dark since their labels didn’t carry this warning.
If you or a loved one took Abilify sometime between November 2002 to May 2016 for at least three months and compulsively gambled while taking this medication, you may be able to make a claim. Our compassionate team would love to hear your story. You may be eligible to receive financial compensation for your hardships, so contact us today.