Abilify is a best-selling drug that “is used to treat schizophrenia, and can be used in combination with other drugs to treat depression,” as STAT News puts it. It turns out that it can also, in rare cases at least, cause some very odd side effects.
STAT reports that in a warning posted yesterday, the FDA explained that the drug appears to sometimes cause people to have urges to engage in various forms of behavior impulsively, ranging from sex to gambling:
Compulsive gambling was previously listed as a side effect on the drug labels, and was the most common side effect seen in the reports filed to the FDA. But excessive shopping, compulsive eating, and an uncontrollable urge to have sex were also reported in a handful of cases. Other serious side effects of the drug: a higher chance of developing diabetes and hyperglycemia, as well as an increased risk of suicide among patients under the age of 24.
STAT notes that these side effects are quite uncommon, with just 167 documented cases since the drug hit the market 13 years ago. Abilify’s maker, Otsuka America Pharmaceutica — which, STAT notes, is facing class-action lawsuits for having allegedly failed to warn consumers about these impulse-control issues — is adding expanded language to the medications’ bottles and accompanying safety literature. That is probably a good idea.