Abilify (aripiprazole) Complaints on the Rise as Manufacturers Face Numerous Lawsuits
Abilify, a drug commonly prescribed to treat mental health conditions, has been linked to causing serious side effects. Studies have shown an increased risk of compulsive behaviors - eating disorders, gambling addictions and other addictions - in patients taking Abilify. This research has led to an alarming number of lawsuits against Abilify manufacturers.
Abilify is an antipsychotic medication that received FDA approval in 2002. It is commonly prescribed to treat various mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease, Tourette syndrome, autism symptoms and major depressive disorder.
While Abilify may be used to treat mental disorders in children, its safety and effectiveness is unknown in some cases. For example, there is very little information about using Abilify to treat schizophrenia in children younger than 13 or bipolar disorder in children under the age of 10.
Since coming on the market, the number of patients taking Abilify continues to increase every year. In 2015, roughly 1.6 million patients were prescribed Abilify from outpatient retail pharmacies.
However, over the past decade, Abilify has been linked to serious side effects in some patients. As a result, Abilify’s manufacturers Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company and Bristol-Myers Squibb have faced a growing number of legal allegations.
Abilify Warnings and Side Effects
Although Abilify helps many patients better manage a mental or mood disorder, there are some risks involved in taking the medication. Abilify comes in different forms: tablet, disintegrating tablet, liquid and injection. Tablets and liquid doses are generally taken once a day. It’s important to only take your prescribed amount, as any more or less could trigger unwanted effects.
Some side effects of Abilify are minor and do not require medical attention. However, if you experience painful symptoms from taking Abilify, notify your doctor or seek emergency care immediately.
Serious side effects that have been linked to Abilify include:
- Increased risk of stroke
- Uncontrollable movements of face, tongue and other parts of the body
- Stiff muscles
- Trouble breathing
Research has also shown that some patients taking Abilify have displayed compulsive behaviors such as eating disorders, gambling addictions, exercise addictions and more. Adolescents and young adults under the age of 24 should not take Abilify to treat depression due to its risk of developing suicidal thoughts.
Abilify Faces an Increasing Number of Lawsuits
The effectiveness of Abilify was only studied for a short period of time – four and six week trials. Some patients argue manufacturers did not spend enough time researching the drug’s long-term side effects. With a lack of information about complications that may arise while taking Abilify, patients are risking their health and well-being.
In 2005, the FDA required manufacturers of Abilify to include a black box warning – the agency’s strictest label. The black box warning was related to the increased risk of death in patients who take Abilify for dementia-related conditions.
More than a decade after its black box warning, in 2016, the FDA issued a safety announcement about the harmful effects associated with Abilify. The communication message addressed concerns about impulse-control problems that were reported after using Abilify. It specifically warned about compulsive and uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop and have sex. Patients, caregivers and medical professionals were given information on how to identify a potential problem. After notifying a doctor about a change in behavior, a patient’s Abilify dose may be lowered or stopped altogether.
Abilify Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)
After a large number of lawsuits were brought against Abilify manufacturers Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Bristol-Myers Squibb, a request was filed to consolidate the cases. As of June 2016, plaintiffs and defendants agreed to organize the lawsuits as part of a multidistrict litigation (MDL).
For lawsuits to be involved in an MDL, patients’ injuries must have at least one similarity. In the case of Abilify, many patients have experienced compulsive behavior symptoms after taking the drug. An MDL helps centralize all cases under one judge. Evidence from each case is gathered and sorted during legal proceedings. This keeps information consistent, as well as reduces litigation costs.
The Abilify MDL will take place in Florida and will be presided under the Honorable Margaret C. Rodgers. Cases will now transfer from their original jurisdiction to a courthouse in Florida until legal proceedings are completed.