Q. A good friend got tardive dyskinesia (TD) from taking the combination of Prozac and Abilify. This led to abnormal facial expressions and uncontrollable tongue movements. This person was always tired and showed no emotion. Even after stopping the Abilify and reducing the dose of Prozac the symptoms persisted.
The makers of Abilify continue to advertise this drug on television. Why is there no outrage? I have read that older people are especially vulnerable to side effects and may never recover. Please investigate and report on Abilify!
A. Abilify (aripiprazole) is a powerful antipsychotic medication first approved for the treatment of schizophrenia a decade ago. Since then it has received the green light to treat bipolar disorder, major depression (in combination with antidepressants) and irritability associated with autism.
Initially it was believed that newer generation antipsychotic drugs like Abilify (called atypical antipsychotics) were unlikely to cause tardive dyskinesia (TD) compared to older drugs like chlorpromazine (Thorazine), fluphenazine (Prolixin), haloperidol (Haldol) or thioridazine (Mellaril). While this terrible (and potentially irreversible side effect) is seemingly less common with the newer drugs, it is not unheard of.
TARDIVE DYSKINESIA [TD]
We think of this neurological side effect of antipsychotic drugs as brain damage. That is, the medications can cause the following symptoms. Stopping the medicine does not always eliminate this devastating condition. It can become permanent. You are right that older people may be especially vulnerable to TD:
• Involuntary and repetitive movements of the tongue, lips and mouth
• Lip smacking, lip pursing
• Sticking out of the tongue repeatedly and uncontrollably
• Blinking of eyes over and over
• Uncontrollable movements of the neck, arms or legs
• Inability to sit still
We share your outrage that Abilify and other antipsychotic drugs are advertised on television. These are extremely powerful drugs with a very long list of serious adverse reactions.
SEROQUEL SIDE EFFECTS:
• Weight gain, increased appetite
• Sleepiness, fatigue, drowsiness , insomnia
• Impaired judgment or thinking
• Dry mouth , cough
• Dizziness, unsteadiness , walking difficulties, lightheadedness
• Rapid heart rate
• Constipation, digestive upset, heartburn, stomachache, nausea
• Tremor, shaky hands
• Difficulty swallowing , excess salivation
• Uncontrollable muscle movements , tardive dyskinesia, restlessness, agitation, anxiety
• Visual disturbances , blurred vision
• Anemia, blood disturbances
• High cholesterol, elevated triglycerides (this is a drug class effect)
• Back pain , muscle pain, muscle spasms
• Liver enzyme elevation
• Rash, serious skin reactions (requires immediate medical oversight!)
• Difficulty sleeping
• Fever (requires immediate medical attention!)
• Worsened depression, suicidal thoughts
• Seizures, stroke
With a list of such serious side effects we find it incredible that this drug can be advertised on television. The idea that a patient should ask his doctor if Abilify “is right for you” is indeed outrageous to us. We also find the “free trial offer” equally disturbing.
And here’s one other concern. Abilify can interact with a number of other drugs. For example, fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil) may increase the blood levels of Abilify in the body and therefore increase the risk of side effects, especially something called serotonin syndrome. We wonder whether your friend, who was taking Prozac and Abilify simultaneously, got into trouble for this very reason. Such combinations may require careful dosing adjustments.
Before taking Abilify please check with your pharmacist to make sure you aren’t taking any other medicine that might be incompatible with this antipsychotic drug.