Abilify, a powerful antipsychotic medication, is the top-selling drug in the United States, earning more in sales than all other major anti-depressants combined. The drug is intended to treat depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Tourettes by changing patientsâ behavior. Sadly, studies have linked Abilify to reward-seeking behaviors like gambling and compulsive spending, causing the destruction of families, careers and personal lives.
Our team of Abilify lawyers examines the link between Abilify and gambling and the lawsuits filed against its manufacturer.
Abilify was approved in 2002 in the same class of drugs as Seroquel, Risperdal and Zyprexa. It may surprise many to know that neither the FDA nor doctors understand exactly how Abilify works in helping mental illness. There is a proposed theory of mechanism, but no medical research or evidence to confirm it. Abilify is the only antipsychotic that acts on the dopamine system, however, which may hold the key to the development or worsening of uncontrollable urges.
There has been much medical, scientific, and legal discussion around the impact of Abilify on impulse control and pathological gambling. One paper, published in 2011 in the British Journal of Psychiatry, detailed three case reports on this precise issue: unexpected changes in behavior and impulse control, attributed to Abilify.
The paper centers on three patients who sought cognitive-behavioral therapy for pathological gambling at a national clinic. The first case, J, was 29-years-old, taking 5mg of Abilify to treat paranoid schizophrenia, and gambling every day. He believed the medication caused his gambling to escalate, and stopped taking it. After stopping Abilify, he did not gamble for four weeks, aside from one lapse.
Two weeks later, he was put back on 15mg of Abilify for his mental health issues. He reported the return of strong urges to gamble, including impulsive, extensive, and illegal planning to get money to gamble with. His psychiatrist changed his treatment to Seroquel, and J was finally able to stay abstinent from gambling after switching medications.
Another patient, S, was 26-years-old with no history of gambling. S had previously taken Risperdal, but was switched to Abilify in 2006 for schizophrenia. By 2007, S started experiencing strong, euphoric thoughts of gambling. Over the next two years, his gambling sent him $35,000 into debt on internet betting sites. His doctor decided to stop Abilify.
After one month off the drug, S reported no drive to gamble, and was unable to explain his behavior while taking Abilify. His abstinence from gambling maintained at three- and six-month follow-ups.
All three patients reported positive responses in their mental health issues with Abilify. They all noted clear changes in their gambling behavior, however, and a distinct change in thinking and behavior after stopping the drug. Researchers noted that these observations add to the existing studies and papers on Abilify's effects on developing or worsening OCD symptoms, hypersexuality, and excessive shopping activities.
All drugs have side effects, ranging in severity and unique to each patient. What makes this particular drug so incredibly dangerous is how loosely it is prescribed to patients, and how little these patients know about Abilify. This is a drug intended for severe mental illness, yet its advertising depicts it as a conventional anti-depressant or sleep aid, and thus has become the most profitable drug in the country.
This, despite the complete lack of an accepted theory to explain how or why Abilify works in the brain. This is not uncommon in the drug industry, no one knows exactly how Mirena acts as a contraceptive, they just know it does, but what's concerning is how little patients are told. If the elderly or young children were told that the drug they’re taking is a powerful anti-psychotic, putting them at risk of type II diabetes, death and a gambling/sex/shopping addiction, would it still be the nation’s top-selling drug?
The Abilify lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm are currently accepting clients who suffered uncontrollable gambling while on Abilify. If you or someone you love experienced this type of behavior, contact our firm for a free case review. We represent clients and families nationwide.