Abilify Questioned As Maintenance Therapy for Bipolar

Research into Abilify, a heavily-marketed drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, has recently been reviewed by researchers wondering about its effectiveness for long-term treatment of bipolar disorder. The atypical antipsychotic originally approved by the FDA in 2002 as a treatment for schizophrenia, and in 2004 it was approved to treat acute manic episodes in bipolar disorder. While it was approved the following year for long-term use by bipolar patients, it turns out that its presumed effectiveness for maintenance therapy is based on a single clinical trial that had some major flaws.

Dr. Alexander C. Tsai, a psychiatrist and visiting researcher at Harvard University, was one of the lead authors of this new review of Abilify research. The researchers looked for published and unpublished double-blind, randomized controlled trials on Abilify as a long-term therapy for bipolar. While Dr. Tsai says the drug may work for some people as maintenance therapy for bipolar disorder, “We failed to find sufficient data to support its use.” The researchers’ concern, he adds, is that the frequent use of Abilify--with patients often asking for it by name--is diverting patients away from treatments that have been scientifically shown to be more effective. Lithium, for example, is a much older drug that has quite a bit of evidence supporting its effectiveness as a long-term treatment of bipolar disorder.

Bristol-Myers Squibb, the company that markets Abilify in the U.S., says that they have actually conduced 5 long-term studies of Abilify in the maintenance of bipolar disorder, and they will make data from those studies available for physicians.

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/05/03/abilify.use.questions/index.html?np...

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