One of the biggest outlays for the Medicare program overall was the antipsychotic drug, Abilify, which cost Medicare more than $2.5 billion in 2014. The annual spending on the drug added up to more than $6,000 a year per beneficiary, but the average portion borne by the patient was $552 a year. The vast majority of the people taking the drug, who were on a low-income subsidy, would pay even less: $20 a year.
Aripiprazole, sold under the brand name Abilify among others, is an atypical antipsychotic. It is recommended and primarily used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Other uses include as an add-on treatment inmajor depressive disorder, tic disorders, and irritability associated with autism. According to a Cochrane review, evidence for the oral form in schizophrenia is not sufficient to determine effects on general functioning. Additionally, because many people dropped out of the medication trials before they were completed, the overall strength of the conclusions is low.
Side effects include neuroleptic malignant syndrome, a movement disorder known as tardive dyskinesia, and high blood sugar in those with diabetes. In the elderly there is an increased risk of death. It is thus not recommended for use in those with psychosis due to dementia. It is pregnancy category C in the United States and category C in Australia, meaning there is possible evidence of harm to the fetus. It is not recommended for women who are breastfeeding. It is unclear whether it is safe or effective in people less than 18 years old.
It is a partial dopamine agonist. Aripiprazole was developed by Otsuka in Japan. In the United States, Otsuka Americamarkets it jointly with Bristol-Myers Squibb. From April 2013 to March 2014, sales of Abilify amounted to almost $6.9 billion.
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