Abilify (aripiprazole) has been linked to many serious side effects and complications. These include compulsive gambling, unusual urges and life-threatening reactions to the antipsychotic drug. The drug also has a risk of weight gain, suicidal thoughts and withdrawal. Some of these side effects may result in permanent injury even after Abilify is discontinued. Some conditions may even become worse after stopping the drug.
If you or a loved one suffered from adverse events like compulsive behaviors after Abilify use, you may be eligible for compensation.
Abilify side effects can range from weight gain and insomnia to compulsive behaviors and suicidal thoughts. Some side effects of Abilify (aripiprazole) can cause permanent damage.
Abilify patients have reported developing impulse control problems. These uncontrollable urges include gambling, sex and shopping. They have disrupted patients’ daily lives. Patients feel the effects in finances, relationships and their well-being.
Abilify is also linked to problems with patients’ metabolism. This can lead to weight gain and dangerously high blood sugar levels. It can also cause abnormally low blood pressure, seizures and difficulty swallowing.
Abilify also carries two black box warnings. One describes life-threatening risks to elderly patients with dementia. The other advises patients that drugs like Abilify can lead to thoughts of suicide.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration found 164 cases of compulsive gambling associated with Abilify over a roughly 13-year period. The FDA database review looked at reports between November 2002 and January 2016.
Studies going back to 2011 uncovered patients who previously did not have gambling problems and developed them when taking Abilify. The compulsive gambling associated with the drug stopped when the drug was discontinued or the dose lowered.
A researcher who has studied Abilify and similar drugs has found significant associations with compulsive behaviors, including gambling. Thomas J. Moore is a senior scientist at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.
“The drug triggers a pathological urge to gamble constantly, sometimes among persons with no previous interest. It might be people starting to spend $300 a week on lottery tickets, and in other cases people will gamble away tens of thousands of dollars.”
Hundreds of people who say they took Abilify and lost thousands of dollars gambling have filed Abilify lawsuits seeking compensation for their losses.
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014 found dopamine agonist drugs like Abilify “are associated with serious impulse control disorders; the associations were significant [and] the magnitude of the effects was large.”
The study analyzed records of serious adverse drug events. The records involved impulse-control issues in patients using Abilify or another dopamine-receptor agonist medication.
In 2016, the FDA published a Safety Announcement warning the public about reports of “compulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop and have sex” associated with Abilify.
Hypersexual activity is another compulsive behavior associated with Abilify. The sexual side effects of Abilify don’t appear as common as compulsive gambling, however.
The same FDA review that found 164 gambling cases found nine patients exhibiting compulsive sexual behavior.
Four patients described in medical literature who experienced hypersexual behavior noticed the behavior when they first started aripiprazole, according to the FDA.
The behavior resolved after the drug was stopped. But it started again when the patients started taking the drug again.
A 2016 article in The Daily Beast quoted a letter from a woman who said her life was turned upside down when she started taking Abilify. She exchanged sexual messages and photographs with men.
It all ended when her husband caught her. But that wasn’t before the pictures made their way to her workplace, and she was publicly shamed.
Abilify carries an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adults and young adults. The FDA requires a black box warning that details this side effect. This warning applies to antidepressants in general.
The label advises patients to monitor for the emergence or worsening of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Patients should not to stop taking Abilify without first talking to their doctor.
Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a serious side effect of Abilify. TD is a disorder characterized by involuntary movements that most often affect the lower face. Tardive means delayed and dyskinesia means abnormal movement.
TD often occurs after long-term use (months or years) of these medications, but in some instances, it can result after just six weeks of drug use. Once it happens, the condition may not be reversible even after the medication is discontinued.
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare, life-threatening reaction to antipsychotic drugs, such as Abilify, according to a review written by The Neurohospitalist and published by the National Institutes of Health.
NMS has been associated with virtually all neuroleptics. This includes Abilify.
The condition is characterized by fever, altered mental status, muscle rigidity and autonomic dysfunction. Autonomic functioning is related to the autonomic nervous system of the body that controls involuntary or unconscious functions. These functions include heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, urination and sexual arousal.
There are several common side effects from taking aripiprazole. For example, Abilify can make you sleepy. Or it can create trouble sleeping (insomnia).
A study published in JAMA found drugs like Abilify are associated with significant weight gain.
Researchers in 2009 studied second-generation antipsychotic medications, including Abilify, and their association with “rapid and significant” weight gain in youth.
Study participants who took aripiprazole gained 9.7 pounds after an average of about 11 weeks. A group of participants who didn’t take the drug gained less than half a pound.
Researchers wrote that previous studies also found weight gain in adults taking the drug, but it was not as rapid and as significant as in youth. In general, Abilify’s effects on weight are thought to be less than other antipsychotics.
Because Abilify affects how your brain works, suddenly stopping the drug may lead to withdrawal symptoms. This is especially the case if you have taken Abilify over an extended time or if you take a higher dose.
Medical professionals recommend gradually tapering off the drug. This should always be done in consultation with your doctor.
If Abilify side effects occur, they generally start while people are taking the drug. Some side effects can occur after people stop taking Abilify.
Most side effects of Abilify go away over time as the body adjusts to the drug. This is especially true for common side effects.
In general, compulsive behaviors happen after patients start taking Abilify and stop within days or weeks after the drug is discontinued. The risk of suicidal thoughts is enhanced at the beginning of Abilify treatment and any time the dose is changed.
Tardive dyskinesia can occur after as little as six weeks of drug use. It usually happens after long-term use over months or years. This condition may also develop after you’ve stopped taking Abilify. It may not go away.
Abilify has also been linked to several other potential risks. For example, the FDA has issued a black box warning about elderly people and Abilify.
According to the warning, elderly people with dementia who are treated with Abilify or other antipsychotics are more likely to die than those who don’t take antipsychotics.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
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