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Not only is Abilify America’s most profitable pharmaceutical medication, it is also one of the most visible drugs in modern culture. Marketed in television and Internet commercials as a “booster medication,” Abilify is meant to amplify the therapeutic effects of other antidepressant drugs.
However, Abilify use has been linked to erratic and self-harmful behavior in patients who take it. Investigators have uncovered the drug maker’s aggressive and irresponsible marketing through the years. As a result of these advertising tactics, thousands of people have bought into the promises of this drug only to have their lives turned inside out by its damaging side effects.
Our team of lawyers have successfully advocated on behalf of those who have suffered due to a pharmaceutical company’s intent to put their profits over the safety and well-being of millions of Americans.
Among these side effects, the most severe is a compulsive gambling behavior.
Other unintended consequences that have been reported include other compulsive behaviors, such as hyper-sexuality and excessive shopping.
We understand the distress and shame that Abilify victims may feel due to their actions under the influence of this drug. You should not have to grieve in silence. If you or someone you love has suffered harm from taking this drug, you can take action against the irresponsible companies and doctors who brought this heartache into your life.
Originally approved and released in 2002, Abilify (aripiprazole) is an antipsychotic medication intended to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The drug got a new boost in 2007, when the Food and Drug Administration approved it as an “add-on,” or combination medication to enhance the effects of other antidepressant drugs, as well as to treat the irritability or agitation that can accompany autism or schizophrenia.
Abilify was the first pharmaceutical to be approved for “add-on” use of this kind.
Like other antipsychotic drugs, Abilify works by changing chemical reactions in the brain. However, it belongs to a newer class of drugs known as “second-generation antipsychotics,” that work differently from previous similar medications. Whereas drugs in this class would control symptoms by blocking the brain’s chemical receptors for dopamine or serotonin, Abilify works by controlling the output of dopamine and serotonin, in order to stabilize the patient’s overall emotional balance.
$6.8 Million in Sales in just 12 months
For this reason, many doctors have leaped at the chance to prescribe Abilify for a wide variety of uses, many of which are considered “off-label drug use,” other than for use as described on the manufacturer’s label. This means that doctors have been prescribing Abilify for reasons that are not FDA-approved. Abilify off-label uses include treatments for anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior, aggression and irritability.
Due to frequent prescription of Abilify by doctors, the drug quickly climbed to its place as the single most profitable pharmaceutical in the United States. In just one year, Abilify sales totaled about $6.8 billion worldwide. As of March 2014, doctors wrote 8.7 million Abilify prescriptions a year, and that number has only continued to grow.
Risks in Taking America’s Most Profitable Drug
Due to the medical community’s enthusiasm for Abilify, patients are seldom warned about the significant risks that come with taking this stabilizer or “add-on” drug. The millions of prescriptions issued came at a cost. Patients under the age of 24 reported that their depression became worse, not better, and even reported experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors after taking Abilify. Older patients suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease who took Abilify showed an increased risk of stroke. Both reports prompted the FDA to issue a “black box warning” on Abilify against use of the drug in older adults, and for treating depression pediatric patients.
The FDA issued a new warning in May 2016 about a widespread consequence to taking one of America’s most profitable drugs: the onset of compulsive behaviors. Common compulsive behaviors triggered by Abilify use are gambling, hypersexuality, compulsive shopping and binge eating.
More than 80 studies currently link aripiprazole medications to compulsive behaviors.
In fact, doctors from all over the world have reported growing numbers of new patients admitted to addictive behavior clinics who share a history of taking Abilify. Cases of compulsive behavior, especially gambling, from the United States, Great Britain, France, Australia, New Zealand and more can be traced back to the use of Abilify as a booster for another depression medication.
From 2005 to 2013, an FDA report showed that Abilify accounted for at least 54 cases of compulsive or impulsive behavior problems, including 30 reports of compulsive gambling, 12 reports of impulsive behavior, nine reports of hypersexuality and three reports of compulsive shopping, according to court documents. The FDA received 29 reports of Abilify-related gambling issues in 2014 alone.
How could Abilify cause these destructive and compulsive side effects? The drug works by adjusting the dopamine levels in the brain’s limbic system. This may overstimulate the brain’s reward center, causing impulse control to be overridden by a feeling of euphoria.
Severe Financial Losses
Since 2007, more and more cases of compulsive gambling have been linked to Abilify. The financial losses suffered by these patients are truly astounding, sometimes totaling in the tens of thousands of dollars over just a few months. In just one case, the victim reported an addiction that went on for 12 years, in which he experienced such strong urges toward gambling that he even began planning crimes as a way of obtaining sufficient funds to continue his habit.
Patients also reported that their urges toward compulsive behavior stopped almost immediately after discontinuing use of Abilify. By then, though, the damage had already been done. Abilify patients have suffered severe losses, have had their savings and retirement accounts drained and have even declared bankruptcy, all from taking a drug they were told could help them.
What’s Being Done About It Now
Since January 2016, Abilify users who found themselves with a sudden pathological gambling problem have begun to file lawsuits against Abilify manufacturers Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. One of the first cases against Abilify was filed by a patient in Indiana, who claimed that the drugs’ harmful impact on the brain constitutes a physical injury. The patient also claimed that the drug companies knew of the risks, but did nothing to warn patients of the possible dangers.
These claims may be supported, in that other countries around the world recognize the compulsive behavior results from taking Abilify since 2012. In fact, European lawmakers have required that Abilify’s label include a warning about the risk of pathological gambling. Canada followed suit in 2015, by requiring a similar label warning about the gambling risks.
However, the United States FDA has issued a Drug Safety Communication only recently, as of May 2016.
Contact Our Attorneys Today
If you or someone you love has had their life torn apart by uncontrollable behaviors linked to the use of Abilify, you deserve justice for the harm and emotional distress you have suffered. You may be entitled to financial compensation from the drug company, as well as from the healthcare provider who prescribed Abilify without warning you of its risks.
The team of pharmaceutical law experts at Searcy Denney is ready to fight for your right to be compensated. Don’t spend any more time as a victim of big pharma’s greed. Contact us today at (800) 388-3905 to receive a free consultation about your case.
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