Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002, Abilify (aripiprazole) is a top-selling drug prescribed to treat depression and symptoms of psychotic conditions, including schizophrenia and manic depression. The drug is classified as an atypical antipsychotic, a class that also includes Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa.
Although it was not FDA approved for use in children with varying disorders or elderly dementia patients, the drug was found to be routinely marketed to those demographics. With the marketing partnership of Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Bristol-Myers Squibb actively deceiving their consumers, lawsuits and agency reports become commonplace regarding it.
If you have suffered from destructive, compulsive behavior after taking Aripiprazole, our Abilify lawyers can help you seek compensation. By working with our team of dangerous drug attorneys, you can be sure your case is in good hands.
What is Abilify Used For?
Patients suffering from schizophrenia under the age of 13, from bipolar disorder under the age of 10, and from Tourette’s under the age of 6 have been most heavily affected by Abilify prescriptions when observing use on children. Although no information existed regarding the safety or efficacy of the drug in consumers of the aforementioned age ranges, the drug was still pushed on consumers as an effective medical solution to their problems.
Elderly consumers who took the drug to combat symptoms of dementia were perhaps the most affected of all demographics who suffered Aripiprazole-related complications. As drug use continued, it was discovered that the use of it to combat dementia actually increased the risk of death for those consumers.
The oral tablet form of this drug was designed and approved to be used to treat the following disorders in adult patients:
- Bipolar 1 Disorder
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Autism Disorder
- Tourette’s Disorder
Prescribed far less than the oral tablet form, an Aripiprazole injection prescription is utilized to specifically treat agitation associated with bipolar mania or schizophrenia.
What Is Autism?
According to AutismSpeaks.org, autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a range of conditions that are characterized by challenges related to social skills, repetitive behavior, speech and nonverbal communication as well as by unique strengths and differences. There is more than one form, all of which are caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental factors.
There is not currently a medication that can remove the core signs of ASD. However, there are many medications that can be used to help control symptoms. For example, antidepressants may be prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, and antipsychotic drugs are sometimes used to help with behavioral problems. There are a number of other medications that can be used but it all depends on the individual’s case of ASD and what issues they are dealing with.
What Are the Side Effects Of Abilify?
Because it targets functions associated with the brain, it has the potential to trigger a wide variety of serious side effects that can range from minor inconveniences to debilitating conditions.
Some of these side effects as noted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration include:
- Stroke (Elderly Patients)
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)
- Uncontrolled Body Movements (Tardive Dyskinesia)
- Orthostatic Hypotension
- Low White Blood Cell Count
- Body Temperature Irregularities
- Swallowing Difficulty
- High Blood Sugar (Hyperglycemia) & Diabetes
- Increased Fat Levels In The Bloodstream
- Excessive Weight Gain
Dementia is a broad category of brain disease that causes a long-term and often gradual decrease in the ability to think, remember, problem-solve or speak.
These changes are often small to start but may become great enough to affect a person’s daily life. Individuals afflicted may experience a change in mood and behavior.
Dementia is caused when the brain becomes damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease or a stroke.
A diagnosis requires a change from someone’s usual mental functioning and a more severe decline than one would expect from aging.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause; however, not all dementia is due to Alzheimer’s. Depending on the parts of the brain damaged and the disease that they are afflicted with, a person’s symptoms will vary.
Increased Risk Of Death In Elderly Dementia Patients
It may raise the risk of death in the elderly who have lost touch with reality – sufferers of psychosis or dementia – and is not approved for us in either of these situations.
Use of this drug for these health complications should be immediately halted with a healthcare provider contacted immediately.
Risk Of Suicidal Thoughts Or Actions
Contact a healthcare provider immediately if the following symptoms apply to a user and have recently developed or increased in prevalence:
- Thoughts about suicide or dying
- Attempts to commit suicide
- New or worsening depression
- New or worsening anxiety
- Feelings of agitation or restlessness
- Panic attacks
- New or worsening irritability
- Increased aggressiveness
- Acting on dangerous impulses
- Extreme increase in activity and talking
- Unusual changes in mood or behavior
If suicidal thoughts or actions are developed while taking the drug, it is important to first contact a healthcare provider before the drug administration is discontinued. Stopping an antidepressant medicine can trigger additional dangerous health complications.
Minor Side Effects
While serious side effects are exceptionally rare in users, there is a multitude of side effects that rarely develop into deadly conditions but are dangerous to an individual’s health nonetheless.
These common side effects can include:
While the most commonly reported, these side effects and the previously detailed serious conditions do not constitute all of the possible health risks posed by the drug. To gain a full understanding of the health risks posed to individuals taking it, a healthcare provider or medical professional must be contacted.
However, as identified by the FDA, the most serious of all Abilify-related side effects are compulsive, destructive behavior which could be the basis for a lawsuit with the help of a skilled attorney.
Does Aripiprazole Cause Compulsive Behavior?
Compulsions are repetitive behaviors or thoughts that a person engages in to neutralize, counteract, or diminish obsessions altogether. This can eventually lead to an obsessive-compulsive disorder, where these gradual obsessions become overwhelming and can get in the way of important activities the person values.
People with OCD realize compulsions are a temporary solution, but without a better way to cope, they rely on them as a temporary escape. Compulsions can also involve situations that trigger obsessions such as gambling, spending or binge-eating.
Abilify is the second highest-selling drug in 2015 with sales reportedly reaching over $7.9 billion, impacting millions of consumers each year. However, many of those consumers are unaware that their use of the drug could trigger the development of several destructive compulsive behaviors.
While the drug label warns consumers of a compulsive gambling risk, there is no warning on the product indicating that the compulsive behavior risks may range from binge eating to sexual compulsion and various other impulses.
However, since an FDA drug safety communication was released on May 3, 2016 consumers now at least have the ability to learn about the drug’s dangerous compulsive behavior side effects. These warnings came exceptional late for many consumers though, especially those who already suffered from Abilify-related compulsive behavior unaware that their prescription was the issue. Examples of compulsive issues that may be caused by Aripiprazole include gambling, spending, eating, stealing, and/or hypersexuality. If you have experienced any of these side effects after using Abilify, you should call our attorneys to discuss the possibility of seeking compensation.
With the FDA now requiring that it be labeled with a compulsive gambling warning, following suit with European and Canadian agencies, there is little debate as to whether the drug serves as a direct trigger for compulsive gambling.
Observational studies have also worked to prove that the relationship between the drug and compulsive gambling is causative rather than correlative. Consumers with no prior history of gambling may suddenly develop a need to compulsively gamble, in almost all cases the gambling compulsion dissipates immediately once drug use has halted.
According to the Mayo Clinic, signs and symptoms of compulsive (pathologic) gambling include:
- Gaining a thrill from taking big gambling risks
- Taking increasingly bigger gambling risks
- Preoccupation with gambling
- Reliving past gambling experiences
- Gambling as a way to escape problems or feelings of helplessness, guilt or depression
- Taking time from work or family life to gamble
- Concealing or lying about gambling
- Feeling guilt or remorse after gambling
- Borrowing money or stealing to gamble
- Failed efforts to cut back on gambling
Abilify causes compulsive spending in much of the same fashion as gambling, although in most records it is not as prominent.
Formal FDA acknowledgment of a compulsive gambling link occurred in the May 2015 safety communication. This communication stated that “these behaviors can affect anyone who is taking the medicine.” This blanket warning has led to some consumers and professionals to reconsider what constitutes appropriate use of Abilify.
Compulsive shopping may result in interpersonal, occupational, family, and financial problems in one’s life. Impairment in relationships may occur as a result of excessive spending and efforts to cover up debt or purchases.
According to the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, signs and symptoms of compulsive shopping and spending include:
- Shopping or spending money as result of feeling disappointed, angry, or scared
- Shopping or spending habits causing emotional distress in one’s life
- Having arguments with others about one’s shopping or spending habits
- Feeling lost without credit cards
- Buying items on credit that would not be bought with cash
- Feeling a rush of euphoria and anxiety when spending money
- Feeling guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, or confused after shopping or spending money
- Lying to others about purchases made or how much money was spent
- Thinking excessively about money
- Spending a lot of time juggling accounts or bills to accommodate spending
The May 2016 FDA safety communication warned the public of compulsive eating in the same risk group as compulsive spending — Abilify is linked to compulsive eating, an eating disorder that affects more people than both anorexia and bulimia. Those who develop compulsive eating after taking this drug frequently find themselves quickly gaining a life-altering amount of weight. People with eating problems consistently eat compulsively and oftentimes feel terrible shame about both the behavior and the effects of the behavior on their body size.
Just as gambling and spending compulsions quickly dissipate once use has been halted, so too does compulsive eating.
According to the Mayo Clinic, behavioral and emotional signs and symptoms of binge-eating disorder include:
- Eating unusually large amounts of food in a specific amount of time, such as over a 2-hour period
- Feeling that your eating behavior is out of control
- Eating even when you’re full or not hungry
- Eating rapidly during binge episodes
- Eating until you’re uncomfortably full
- Frequently eating alone or in secret
- Feeling depressed, disgusted, ashamed, guilty or upset about your eating
- Frequently dieting, possibly without weight loss
In some cases, when Abilify causes behaviors like compulsive spending, it can also lead to stealing.
Stealing is one of the problems that can arise when the use of this drug impairs impulse control. For most patients, they have no history of compulsive behaviors or problems with stealing prior to taking the drug.
Impulse control problems can also lead to hypersexuality in some patients.
Numerous studies have linked this drug to hypersexuality, but there remains no warning on the product of this complication.
Perhaps most concerning about the drug and the risk of developing a destructive compulsive behavior is that other major countries had been warning their consumers for years prior to the U.S. issuing their first warning.
While the FDA was fielding reports of compulsive behaviors and not issuing warnings, in 2012 the European Medicines Agency issued an announcement stating that Abilify users and prescribing professionals must be warned of the risks associated with the drug. Health Canada followed behind with its own in an announcement in 2015 regarding compulsive gambling and hypersexuality.
What Legal Action Has Been Taken Against Bristol-Myers Squibb?
Abilify manufacturer Bristol-Myers Squibb has been subjected to multiple major lawsuits in the last decade with one of the most significant settlement totals coming from a case brought against them by the U.S. Justice Department on the grounds of improperly marketing the drug.
The settlement was agreed to in 2007 for a reported $515 million in which $328 million would be paid to the federal government, $187 million to Medicaid states, and payments of $124,000 to various Public Health Service agencies.
It was alleged that from 2000-2003, Bristol-Myers Squibb provided medical professionals with illegal payments to promote the prescription of the drug to children for non-FDA approved uses.
More recently, dozens of former users have filed lawsuits against Bristol-Myers Squibb on grounds that the company was neglectful in testing for or notifying the public of the compulsive behavior risks associated with the drug. As of June 2016, all cases have been frozen until a the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) determines whether all Ability compulsive behavior cases will be consolidated under one multidistrict litigation entity.
This does not prevent victims from filing lawsuits though. In fact, it is recommended that all victims pursue the appropriate legal action as soon as possible to ensure they become eligible for all future settlement offers. Call our Abilify lawyers now to discuss your potential case.
Call an Abilify Lawyer to Discuss Your Legal Options
Our Abilify lawyers can help if you or someone you care has suffered from the development of a destructive compulsive behavior due to Aripiprazole use.
If you developed any of the above compulsive behaviors after taking this drug, and had no prior history of such behavior, you could have a case against the manufacturer. If you do have a history of compulsive behaviors, but taking Aripiprazole intensified such actions, you may also have a case.
In most cases, the uncontrollable urges usually stop within days or weeks of discontinuing the use of Aripiprazole. If you are still taking the drug, we can still evaluate your case.