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Long term Use of Abilify Questioned in New Review

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Abilify was originally approved by the FDA for the treatment of acute symptoms of bi-polar disorder. In 2005 the FDA approved Abilify for the long-term bi-polar treatment. Since this extended approval sales of Abilify have more than doubled and the drug has become the first choice for many physicians.

Over the past few years the use of Abilify as a long-term treatment for bi-polar disorder has increased dramatically, and some health care experts are concerned that patients may be getting diverted from more effective treatments without sufficient evidence.

A new review recently published in the “PloS Medicine” journal, suggests that the medical research needed to support the use of Abilify on the level it is being prescribed is simply does not exist. According to Alexander Tsai, one of the review’s lead authors and visiting researcher at Harvard, there is not “sufficient data to support its use."

During their research the authors of the review found only one clinical trial and two studies based on that trial, concerning the extended use of Abilify as a maintenance treatment for bi-polar disorder. While the trial does speak well of the drug, Tsai and his colleagues pointed out several flaws of trial. Read the CNN story here.

While the researchers are not claiming that Abilify should be avoided for maintenance uses, they do believe that additional research is necessary. The researchers are concerned that patients are being prescribed Abilify are not being treated with the most effective medication to control their symptoms.

Tsai emphasizes that individuals taking Abilify for bipolar disorder should not abruptly stop the medication. "It may actually be working for some people," he says. "But it’s certainly worth talking to your doctor about how it’s working for you."

It will be interesting to see where how the psychiatrists and others in the medical community respond to the review and if there is any impact on the number of Abilify prescriptions being written in the coming months.