Accepting Cases


Abilify (aripiprazole) is an antipsychotic drug approved to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, irritability associated with autistic disorder, Tourette’s disorder, and episodes of mania or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder. The drug works by altering the activity of certain natural substances in the brain. Abilify use has been linked to compulsive gambling, binge eating and uncontrollable sexual urges.

Did you suffer from compulsive behaviors after taking Abilify?

If you or a loved one suffered from adverse events like compulsive behaviors after Abilify use, you may be eligible for compensation.

Abilify Pills
Abilify Facts
  1. Dosage 2 mg tablet, 5 mg tablet, 10 mg tablet, 15 mg tablet, 20 mg tablet, 30 mg tablet
  2. Used to Treat Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder
  3. Manufacturer Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc.
  4. Black Box Warnings Increased mortality in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis; increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults taking antidepressants.
  5. Active Ingredient Aripiprazole
Medically Reviewed

Board-certified physicians medically review Drugwatch content to ensure its accuracy and quality.

Drugwatch partners with Physicians’ Review Network Inc. to enlist specialists. PRN is a nationally recognized leader in providing independent medical reviews.

Reviewer specialties include internal medicine, gastroenterology, oncology, orthopedic surgery and psychiatry.

Related Pages

Abilify is an atypical antipsychotic medication, a category that also includes Clozaril (clozapine), Zyprexa (olanzapine) and Risperdal (risperidone), among others. These drugs are called atypical because they differ from the first generation of antipsychotics, such as Haldol (haloperidol) and Thorazine (chlorpromazine). Clozapine, the first atypical antipsychotic, gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1989; typical antipsychotics were developed in the 1950s.

2nd Gen Antipsychotics
Also called second-generation antipsychotics, atypical antipsychotics carry a lower risk of extrapyramidal side effects — or movement disorders, such as Parkinsonism — but a higher risk of metabolic side effects, which include weight gain, high blood sugar, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Like typical antipsychotics, atypical antipsychotics interact with dopamine receptors; however, unlike typical antipsychotics, the newer drugs also affect serotonin, which is the chemical responsible for maintaining mood balance.

Who Manufactures Abilify?

Abilify is available in tablets manufactured by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. and in orally disintegrating tablets, oral solution and injections for intramuscular use manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. Otsuka America Pharmaceutical Inc. distributes and markets Abilify.

Abilify sales fell in 2015, partly due to generic competition.

Otsuka first partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb in 1999. Abilify’s utility made it one of the world’s top-grossing and most-prescribed antidepressants. Otsuka’s patent on aripiprazole expired in 2014. The first generic versions were approved in 2015. That same year, Abilify sales fell, in part because of generic competition. Abilify was also being identified as a possible source of impulse-control problems, including compulsive gambling, overeating and uncontrollable sexual urges.

Abilify Uses

The FDA first approved Abilify in 2002 for the treatment of schizophrenia, a mental illness that causes severely disordered thoughts, emotions and behavior as well as a loss of interest in life. Roughly 15 years later, doctors continue to prescribe the antipsychotic for the treatment of schizophrenia in adults and teenagers 13 years of age and older. The drug is not approved to treat schizophrenia in children younger than 13.

Did you suffer from compulsive behavior after Abilify use? Free Case Review

Since 2002, the FDA has expanded Abilify’s uses considerably. Most recently, the agency approved the drug to treat children as young as 6 who have Tourette’s disorder, a nervous system disorder that causes uncontrollable movements or sounds known as tics.

Abilify also gained FDA approval for the treatment of irritability associated with autistic disorder, a range of conditions that make it hard to communicate and interact with others. The FDA concluded that Abilify may help control aggression, temper tantrums and frequent mood changes in children ages 6 to 17 with the disorder.

The drug is also approved for use alone or with other medications to treat episodes associated with bipolar disorder in adults, teenagers, and bipolar disorder in children age 10 and older. And when antidepressants alone don’t work, the FDA permits doctors to prescribe Abilify to treat symptoms of major depressive disorder.

Doctors often prescribe Abilify for off-label uses — or uses that lack FDA approval — such as insomnia, delusional disorders and anxiety spectrum disorders. Medical researchers are conducting clinical trials to see if it deserves approval as a treatment for a broader range of maladies.

Abilify Timeline
  • 2002
    The FDA approves Abilify for treatment of schizophrenia after clinical studies of more than 1,000 patients showed that Abilify provided significant improvements in the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
  • 2005
    Abilify uses expand to include treatment of bipolar disorder after clinical trials demonstrated significant improvement in the symptoms of acute manic or mixed episodes.
  • 2006
    The FDA approves Abilify for adjunct treatment for major depressive disorder after studies demonstrated significant improvement in depressive symptoms in adult patients with a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder.
  • 2009
    Abilify wins approval as a trea

How Does Abilify Work?

Atypical or second-generation antipsychotics (SGA) like Abilify work differently from first-generation antipsychotics (FGA) such as Thorazine and Haldol. FGAs target dopamine receptors in the brain, while SGAs typically work on both dopamine and serotonin.

Neural receptors
Abilify is an antipsychotic that maintains chemical balances in receptors

Drugs that activate receptors in the brain for these neurotransmitters are called dopamine receptor agonists and serotonin receptor agonists. Compared with older drugs, SGAs have fewer movement side effects, such as tardive dyskinesia, a disorder that causes involuntary movements.

Abilify also works differently from many other SGAs. Other drugs in the class control symptoms by blocking chemical receptors in the brain for dopamine or serotonin. Aripiprazole works by either enhancing dopamine and serotonin levels or inhibiting them to keep a balance. Doctors call the drug a dopamine-serotonin system stabilizer. That effect makes it a useful tool to prescribe alongside other medications to enhance their effectiveness.

Dopamine – What Is It and How Does It Work?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, or a chemical released by nerve cells, that is naturally occurring in the brain. This chemical is very important to the proper functioning of the brain and the body. Too little or too much of this organic substance can lead to problems with our mood, sleep, learning, memory, ability to focus, motor control, and the brain’s pleasure and reward centers.

Dopamine nerve cells have cell bodies with nerve fibers that extend to various sites in the brain allowing for transmission of the chemical from one area in the brain to another. These connections help to coordinate movement in the body, aid in problem-solving, complex thinking, memory, intelligence and language, and play an important role in a person’s emotional processing.

Dopamine neurons are also significant in motivation and reward, which explains why substances such as cocaine and nicotine, that act to enhance dopamine levels thereby stimulating the effect of reward receptors in the brain, can become so addictive.

“Despite all of the past research on dopamine, many details are missing on how dopamine acts to produce its effects in the brain,” reported the authors of an editorial published in The American Journal of Psychiatry. But the authors did conclude that when a patient’s dopamine systems are considered dysfunctional, they “seek a change,” as they simply do not feel “well.”

When a person suffers from a dysfunctional dopamine system such as a resulting dopamine deficiency, they can experience signs and systems of the disorder. These can include a decreased sex drive, tremors (or in extreme cases Parkinson’s disease), weight gain, impaired balance and coordination, and the inability to sit or stand upright, as well as a shift in mood linked to dopamine dysregulation.

On the other hand, when a patient has too much dopamine, sometimes as the result of recreational drugs as well as certain prescription medications, they can suffer from overstimulation, addictions, anxiety, insomnia, overactive sex drive and self-destructive behaviors. Excess dopamine is also linked to mental illness, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, paranoia, hallucinations and psychosis.

What Are the Side Effects of Abilify?

In clinical trials, Abilify patients demonstrated different adverse reactions ranging from movement disorders and tremors to insomnia and fatigue. In addition to warning about minor side effects of the drug, including nausea, headache, dizziness and drooling, the drug’s label cautions that Abilify can also cause serious side effects.

Possible side effects of Abilify include but are not limited to:
  • Suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults
  • Stroke in elderly people that can lead to death
  • Unusual urges
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS)
  • Uncontrollable body movements (tardive dyskinesia)
  • High blood sugar
  • Increased cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Seizures
  • Problems with control of body temperature that could lead to dehydration

Black Box Warnings

Abilify also carries two black box warnings, which the FDA mandates for serious hazards.

Dementia-related Psychosis
One black box warning advises that Abilify is not approved for treatment in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis and that elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic drugs such as Abilify are at increased risk of death.

A review of 17 controlled trials of Abilify and three similar medications — Zyprexa (olanzapine), Risperdal (risperidone) and Seroquel (quetiapine) — found that elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with the drug died at a rate of about 4.5 percent, compared to a rate of about 2.6 percent in placebo groups.

The other warns of increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults taking antidepressants. This warning is based on the results of trials of nine antidepressant medications, including Abilify.

What Are Abilify's Dosages and Interactions?

Abilify tablets are available in dosages of 2 mg, 5 mg, 1 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg and 30 mg.

The recommended Abilify dose for treatment of schizophrenia is 10 or 15 mg per day in adults and 10 mg per day in adolescents. The maximum dose for this use is 30 mg per day. The initial dose for adolescents is 2 mg per day.

Abilify 10mg pill
Example of 10mg Abilify
Abilify 5mg pill
Example of 5mg Abilify

To treat bipolar mania in adults, the recommended dose is 15 mg per day, or 10 to 15 mg per day when used as an adjunct to lithium or valproate. The recommended dose for pediatric patients with bipolar mania is 10 mg per day. Both adult and pediatric patients with bipolar mania should not take more than 30 mg per day. The initial dose for adolescents is 2 mg per day.

Abilify Dosages
Dosage varies between 2 mg and 20 mg per day based on patient weight for treatment of Tourette’s disorder.

For use as adjunctive treatment for major depressive disorder in adults, the initial dose is 2 to 5 mg per day, with adjustments up to 15 mg per day, if necessary. And as a treatment for irritability associated with autistic disorder, the dose for children ages 6 to 17 is 5 to 10 mg per day, with an initial dose of 2 mg per day and a maximum dose of 15 mg per day.

Abilify has interactions with strong CYP3A4 inhibitors, strong CYP2D6 inhibitors, strong CYP3A4 inducers, antihypertensive drugs and benzodiazepines. Concomitant use of these drugs with Abilify may require dosage adjustments.

Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.

Related Pages

Did you find Drugwatch helpful?

34 Cited Research Articles

  1. Rummel-Kluge, C. et al. (2010, November). Head-to-head comparisons of metabolic side effects of second generation antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Retrieved from
  2. Blair, D.T. & Dunner, A. (1992, November). Extrapyramidal symptoms are serious side-effects of antipsychotic and other drugs. Retrieved from
  3. Abilify. (February 2017). Important safety information for Abilify. Retrieved from
  4. Abilify™ (Aripiprazole) Approved By U.S. Food And Drug Administration For Treatment Of Schizophrenia. (2002, November 15). Bristol-Myers Squibb, Otsuka Holdings. Retrieved from
  5. Guzman, Flavio. (2016, November 1). Aripiprazole Indications: FDA-Approved and Off-Label Uses. Psychopharmacology Institute. Retrieved from
  6. Bristol-Myers Squibb And Otsuka Announce Commercialization Agreement For Aripiprazole. (1999, September 21). Retrieved from
  7. Bristol-Myers Squibb (2017, November). U.S. Food and Drug Administration Approves ABILIFY (aripiprazole) as the First Medication for Add-On Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Retrieved from
  8. Bristol-Myers Squibb (2009, November). U.S. Food and Drug Administration Approves ABILIFY (aripiprazole) for the Treatment of Irritability Associated with Autistic Disorder in Pediatric Patients (Ages 6 to 17 Years). Retrieved from
  9. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2015, April). FDA approves first generic Abilify to treat mental illnesses. Retrieved from
  10. Epocrates. (n.d.). Abilify Black Box Warnings. Retrieved from
  11. Epocrates. (n.d.). Abilify. Retrieved from
  12. MedMD. (n.d.). Abilify Interactions. Retrieved from
  13. (n.d.). Abilify Side Effects. Retrieved from
  14. Cunha, John P. (2017, March 17). Abilify Side Effects Center. Retrieved from
  15. The Carlat Psychiatry Blog. (2011, September). How Abilify Works, And Why It Matters. (2011, September 13). The Carlat Psychiatry Blog. Retrieved from
  16. Poore, Jerod. (2011, November 29). Abilify (aripiprazole) Approved & Off-label Uses. Crazymeds. Retrieved from
  17. Mossop, Brian. (2015, February 10). 5 Surprising Off-label Uses of Top Prescribed Drugs. Retrieved from
  18. Brown, Tony. (2015, May 8). The 10 Most-Prescribed and Top-Selling Medications. Retrieved from
  19. Boyer, Laurent. et al. (2011, February). Aripiprazole-Induced Pathological Gambling: A Report of 3 Cases. PubMed. Retrieved from
  20. Gaboriau, L. , Glenmullen, J., and Mattison, D. (2014, March). Aripirazole: a new risk factor for pathological gambling? A report of 8 case reports. Retrieved from
  21. Moore, T., Glenmullen, J., and Mattison, D. (2014, December). Reports of Pathological Gambling, Hypersexuality, and Compulsive Shopping Associated With Dopamine Receptor Agonist Drugs. Retrieved from
  22. Grall-Bronnec, Marie. et al. (2016, February). Pathological Gambling Associated With Aripiprazole or Dopamine Replacement Therapy. Retrieved from
  23. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2016, May 3). FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns about new impulse-control problems associated with mental health drug aripiprazole (Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Aristada). Retrieved from
  24. Nestel, M.L. (2016, November 28). Patients Say Abilify Turned Them Into Compulsive Gamblers and Sex Addicts. The Daily Beast. Retrieved from
  25. Roxanas, Milton G. (2010, March 1). Pathological Gambling and Compulsive Eating Associated with Aripiprazole. Retrieved from
  26. Schlachetski, J. et al. (2008). Aripiprazole induced hypersexuality in a 24-year-old female patient with schizoaffective disorder? Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. Retrieved from
  27. Cheon, E. et al. (2013, June). Two Cases of Hypersexuality Probably Associated with Aripiprazole. Psychiatry Investigation. Retrieved from
  28. Posses, Shayna. (2016, June 27). Send Abilify Compulsive Gambling Suits To Fla.: Consumers. Law360. Retrieved from
  29. Staton, Tracy. (2016, December 14). Bristol-Myers to pay $19.5 million in Abilify off-label marketing settlement. FiercePharma. Retrieved from
  30. Cohen, B. M. and Carlezon, W.A., Jr., (2007, April 1). Can’t Get Enough of That Dopamine. Retrieved from:
  31. Alban, D. (n.d.). How to Counter the Effects of Too Much Dopamine. Retrieved from:
  32. Salters-Pedneault, K. (2017, February 3). What Is Dopamine? Retrieved from:
  33. Creative Commons. (n.d.). Abilify 10mg
  34. Creative Commons. (n.d.). Abilify 5mg
View All Sources
Who Am I Calling?

Calling this number connects you with Wilson and Peterson, LLP or one of its trusted legal partners. A law firm representative will review your case for free.

Wilson and Peterson, LLP funds Drugwatch because it supports the organization’s mission to keep people safe from dangerous drugs and medical devices.

(855) 715-9320

To contact Drugwatch Managing Editor Kevin Connolly, call (855) 839-9780.

Live Chat Icon livechat loading spinner