The antipsychotic drug Rexulti is new on the market, but researchers are already worried about the medication’s ability to cause impulse-control disorders.
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Our experienced product liability attorneys are investigating the potential effect Rexulti, an atypical antipsychotic drug, may have on compulsive behavior. Some medical experts have begun to worry that, like its predecessor medication Abilify, Rexulti may increase the risk for compulsive gambling and shopping.
Abilify’s warning label bears a prominent cautionary note about these risks; the label for Rexulti does not.
If you or a loved one experienced compulsions and uncontrollable urges after taking Rexulti, our lawyers want to here from you. Contact our team today for a free legal consultation to learn more about your rights and options.
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The active ingredient in Rexulti is called brexpiprazole. This atypical (second generation) antipsychotic drug works by partially blocking brain receptors that respond to dopamine and serotonin, two mood-regulating neurotransmitters.
Approved for the treatment of schizophrenia in the United States in 2015, Rexulti is the only antipsychotic drug based on brexpiprazole available on the market today. It is also approved as an add-on treatment for adults with major depressive disorder.
Rexulti was developed through a joint venture between Otsuka Pharmaceuticals and Danish pharmaceutical manufacturer Lundbeck. Rexulti is seen as a successor to Otsuka’s wildly-popular atypical antipsychotic Abilify, the patent for which expired in 2014. And, while Abilify and Rexulti are not identical, both drugs have been linked to some of the same serious side effects.
Researchers have understood for years that Abilify could increase the risk for troubling compulsive behaviors. Patients who take the drug’s active ingredient, aripiprazole, may live at an increased risk of developing compulsive and uncontrollable urges.
Now, scientists have raised similar concerns about Rexulti, in part because brexpriprazole and aripiprazole (as their names suggest) are very similar chemicals. In fact, some critics have accused Otsuka of “ever-greening” Abilify – changing the drug’s chemical composition in minor ways that have little effect on the medication’s benefits to maintain intellectual property rights in the market.
Rexulti gained FDA approval only three months before the first generic version of Abilify reached pharmacy shelves. But the similarity between Rexulti and Abilify has some medical researchers concerned. Abilify now bears strong warnings for patients and medical providers.
After patients began to step forward with terrifying stories of uncontrollable gambling and shopping, the FDA took action, forcing Otsuka to place prominent warnings about the previously-undisclosed side effects on every package of Abilify. At the same time, hundreds of patients have filed lawsuits against Otsuka, seeking compensation for the severe and devastating effects of gambling, sex, food and shopping addictions.
Many plaintiffs say they’ve lost their loved ones and all of their financial resources to these crippling urges, accusing Otsuka of failing to warn the public and the medical community of the risks.
As we’ve seen, compulsive gambling only made an appearance on Abilify’s warning label after the US Food & Drug Administration stepped in. The same warnings have not been issued for Rexulti, even though both drugs share a similar mechanism of action.
Instead, Rexulti’s warning label only advises patients who have a history of impulse-control problems to take caution; it does not, anywhere, suggest that a gambling or shopping addiction could be among the drug’s side effects.
“Post-marketing reports of impulse-control disorders,” the label reads, “including pathological gambling and hypersexuality have been reported in patients treated with another antipsychotic with partial agonist activity at dopamine receptors. Patients with a prior history of impulse-control disorder may be at increased risk and should be monitored carefully.”
That other antipsychotic linked to impulse-control disorders? It’s Abilify, Otsuka’s first blockbuster schizophrenia drug. Note, however, how much work the warning label’s language does to distance Rexulti from its predecessor drug. But if Rexulti is really just an “evergreened” version of Abilify, there’s a fair chance that both drugs could share a similar risk profile.