Abilify (aripiprazole)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

What is Abilify, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Abilify (aripiprazole) is an anti-psychotic drug used for the medical treatment of psychotic conditions and disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

This drug also is used with other medications for the treatment of major depression in adults.

The exact mechanism of action of Abilify is unknown. Moreover, like other anti-psychotics, it blocks several receptors on the nerves of the brain for several neurotransmitters (chemicals that nerves use to communicate with each other). It is thought that its beneficial effect is due to its effects on dopamine and serotonin receptors. Its effects on these receptors are complex, involving stimulation of the receptors but to a lesser degree than the naturally-occurring neurotransmitters (a process called partial agonism).

Is this medication available as a generic drug?

No, this medication is not available in generic form.

Do I need a prescription for this medication?

Yes, you need a doctor or other medical health professional to write a prescription for this drug.

What are the uses for Abilify?

Aripiprazole is used for the treatment of:

Abilify warnings and side effects

WARNINGS

  • Long-term use of aripiprazole may lead to a potentially irreversible condition called tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements of the jaw, lips, and tongue).
  • A potentially fatal complex referred to as neuroleptic malignant syndrome has been reported with anti-psychotic drugs, including Abilify. Patients who develop this syndrome may have:
  • All atypical antipsychotic drugs have been associated with metabolic changes such as hyperglycemia, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and weight gain. Serious cases of hyperglycemia leading to coma or death have been reported in patients treated with atypical antipsychotics. Although there is no clear link between aripiprazole and diabetes, patients should be tested during treatment for elevated blood-sugars. Additionally, patients with risk factors for diabetes, including obesity or a family history of diabetes, should have their fasting levels of blood sugar tested before starting treatment and periodically throughout treatment to detect the onset of diabetes. Any patient developing symptoms that suggest diabetes during medical treatment should be tested for diabetes.
  • Elderly patients with dementia related psychosis treated with antipsychotics are at an increased risk of death and Abilify should not be used for this indication. Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in short-term studies in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of this medicine or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk of suicide with the clinical need. Patients who are started on medical therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidal thoughts, or unusual changes in behavior.

Some of the most common side effects

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/29/2017

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