FDA Expands Warning after Aripiprazole is Linked to Compulsive and Uncontrollable Urges
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FDA Expands Warning after Aripiprazole is Linked to Compulsive and Uncontrollable Urges

The popular medication has been linked to compulsive urges to gamble, shop, binge eat, and have sex

May 4, 2016

A popular medication to treat psychological disorders may cause users to have compulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop and have sex.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is adding the side effects to new warning labels on packages of the drug aripiprazole, which has a number of generics and is sold under the brand names Abilify, Abilify Maintena and Aristada.

Aripiprazole is used to treat a variety of psychological disorders including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Tourette's disorder, and irritability associated with autistic disorder. It can be used in combination with other drugs to treat depression and can decrease hallucinations and other psychotic symptoms.

More than 1 million people last year received a prescription for aripiprazole and since its approval in 2002, there are 184 case reports linking the drug's use and impulse-control problems. Patients found that these side effect decreased once they were no longer taking the medication or had their dosages decreased.

"These impulse-control problems are rare, but they may result in harm to the patient and others if not recognized," wrote the FDA in a consumer statement.

Pathological gambling has long been associated with the drug, but FDA officials believe the current warning about increased gambling does not fully encompass the scope of the problem.

The FDA says patients and caregivers should be on alert for uncontrollable and excessive urges and behaviors while taking aripiprazole. Should these symptoms occur should not stop taking the medication until they've spoken to their healthcare provider.

Healthcare providers should make patients and caregivers aware of this risk and continue to monitor patients for these symptoms.