Many medications have risks of side effects, but we trust our healthcare providers to minimize risk and warn us of any possible dangers.  One medication commonly prescribed – Abilify – has been linked to type 2 diabetes risk in children.  Read on to learn more about Abilify, what your doctor should tell you, the dangers, and what you can do to get help.

What is Abilify?

Aripiprazole, commonly known as Abilify, is commonly prescribed to children and adults who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or autism spectrum disorders (ASD).  Abilify is an antipsychotic drug that is known to improve the symptoms associated with mental disorders.  Abilify is prescribed for the following:

  • Disorganized thinking
  • Irritability associated with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ASD, or depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Unstable mood
  • Tourette’s disorder


Like any medication, it is important to consult with your doctor and/or pharmacist about any concerns or risk factors related to a new medication.

What Your Doctor Should Tell You

According to the U.S.  Food and Drug Administration (FDA), healthcare providers should warn patients of the risks of using Abilify – particularly uncontrollable urges.  Uncontrollable or excessive urges can lead children to binge eat or overeat, leading to weight gain, obesity, and significant related health conditions like type 2 diabetes.  The FDA urges caregivers to contact their doctor immediately if signs of uncontrollable urges are recognized.

Anytime you or your child is prescribed a medication, you rely on the information given to you to be accurate and safe.  Unfortunately, that is not always the case.  If you or your child have been harmed due to adverse side effects of a medication, and you were not warned about the dangers, you may find it beneficial to contact a medical malpractice attorney.  Your legal rights may have been violated, and you may have the option to take legal action.  Contact Brown & Brothers today to learn more.

What are the Dangers of Taking Abilify?

The short answer is an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  To fully answer this question, we must delve further into the factors contributing to that risk.  Antipsychotic drugs, including Abilify, Risperdal, and Seroquel, have been targeted by researchers for a few years after a link was made between use of the drugs and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.  In 2013, researchers studied individuals between the ages of six and 24, and found a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes among those taking Abilify compared to their peers taking other medications.

As mentioned above, Abilify can contribute to uncontrollable urges, including binge eating or overeating, which can further result in significant weight gain.  Individuals taking antipsychotic drugs are reported to commonly gain 20 to 30 pounds.  In children, such a weight gain can be extremely dangerous.  Weight gain can be even more concerning among children who are already overweight, or who are genetically predisposed to conditions like diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is diagnosed among children at a greater frequency than ever before.  There are an estimated 26 million children in the United States with diabetes.  Another 79 million Americans are considered to be pre-diabetic.  Type 2 diabetes can cause a variety of other health problems, such as:

  • Kidney disease
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Heart disease
  • Nerve pain (neuropathy)
  • Vision problems
  • Fluid retention and swelling (edema)
  • Stroke

Children are not exempt from the risks and complications associated with type 2 diabetes.

Understanding the Risks and Treatment Options

If your child has been diagnosed with aggressive behavioral problems, schizophrenia, ASD, bipolar disorder, or similar conditions, medication may be your best option to help him or her live a full, healthy life.  Before administering a prescribed medication, understand the risks and find a treatment option that works best for your child and family.

There are a variety of medications that may work for your child that do not have the same risks as Abilify.  Some of the recommended medication options include:

  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Depakote
  • Lamictal
  • Adderall
  • Lithium
  • Or Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Zoloft or Prozac

Talk to your doctor, and if you have concerns about a medication prescribed to your child, get a second opinion.

Getting Help with Legal Questions

Doctors are required by law to warn patients of the risks associated with any medication they prescribe.  They are also required to follow FDA guidelines when prescribing medication for various conditions.  On a broader scale, drug manufacturers are required by law to ensure that they provide adequate information and warnings to doctors before medications are prescribed.

The manufacturer of Abilify, Bristol-Myers Squibb, has been accused of failing to warn doctors and patients about the risk of type 2 diabetes among patients using the drug.  Over the past several years, a variety of lawsuits have been filed against Bristol-Myers Squibb.  The company is also facing $19.5 million in fines in a settlement of allegations that the manufacturer improperly marketed the drug to treat conditions not approved by the FDA, as well as minimized the risk of side effects in children.

Unfortunately, not all manufacturers warn doctors and not all doctors warn patients.  These actions, or lack thereof, may be a violation of your legal rights and may constitute medical malpractice.  They can also cause irreparable damage to your family.  Get help with your legal questions by contacting Brown & Brothers today.  Fill out our online form to get started and schedule your free case review.


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