Uncontrollable Urges to Gamble, Have Sex Linked to Antipsychotic Drug

Compulsive behavior – to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex – is linked to the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is red-flagging aripiprazole (Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Aristada, as well as generics) as a cause of compulsive and uncontrollable behavior.

Aripiprazole was approved in late November 2002 to treat mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Tourette’s disorder, and irritability stemming from autistic disorder. Some of the most common side effects of the drug are nausea, headache, dizziness, insomnia, and anxiety. However, a FDA statement released on May 3 is warning potential impulse-control problems.

A total of 167 patients in the US have reported compulsive or uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, or have sex while on aripiprazole — the most common being to gamble with 164 cases. These people have since discontinued the medication.

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“Healthcare professionals should make patients and caregivers aware of the risk of these uncontrollable urges when prescribing aripiprazole,” the report said, “and specifically ask patients about any new or increasing urges while they are being treated aripiprazole.”

These impulse-control issues are rare, officials say, but have the potential to lead to harmful outcomes. As a result, the FDA is requiring that these uncontrollable problems be added to the warning labels.

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