Researchers say that Abilify may not be very effective at treating depression, which is one of the top reasons why doctors prescribe Abilify. Furthermore, the risk of side effects may outweigh any benefits.
In a report published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on July 11, researchers at the Veterans Affairs found that Abilify’s benefits for depression were statistically significant, but minor.
Abilify was not very effective at treating depression, but it frequently caused side effects like sleepiness, weight gain, and a restless movement disorder known as akathisia.
The researchers concluded by questioning the use of Abilify for depression:
Given the small effect size and adverse effects associated with aripiprazole, further analysis including cost-effectiveness is needed to understand the net utility of this approach.”
There are also growing concerns about behavior side effects of Abilify. Since October 2016, approximately 200 Abilify lawsuits have been filed by people who became addicted to gambling.
Abilify users can develop problems with uncontrollable urges to gamble, eat, shop, or have sex while taking the medication, according to the FDA. These disorders are linked to the way Abilify acts on the “reward center” in the brain, reinforcing pleasurable activities and producing intense cravings to do the activity again.
Th problem is that “pathological gambling” was added to the label on Abilify in Europe in November 2012 and in Canada in November 2015 — but in the United States, Bristol-Myers Squibb did not specifically warn patients or doctors about the risk of gambling problems until May 2016.
Lawyers say they are investigating thousands of potential lawsuits involving gambling addiction from Abilify. They say Bristol-Myers Squibb knew about the side effect and failed to warn consumers, downplaying risks to protect billions in sales.
Abilify (aripiprazole) is one of the top-selling medications in the U.S., with sales exceeding $6 billion per year. It is an antipsychotic drug that was approved in 2002 for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorders. Today, Abilify is widely used “off-label” to treat irritability, aggression, and mood swings.