Abilify (aripiprazole) was developed to treat schizophrenia — but only 1% of Americans have schizophrenia. A few years later it was approved for use in bipolar disorders, which about 1.5% of all Americans have. It was never going to be a blockbuster drug for its owner, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, with such a small pool of potential patients. When the FDA approved Abilify as an add-on drug for depression, Bristol-Myers Squibb started advertising to the public and, despite many serious side effects, the drug shot up to the top of the sales charts.
How much Abilify? $6.5 billion worth in 2013. I asked Dr. Candida Fink: Why are people taking so much Abilify? Are people that depressed? Dr. Fink (pictured below) is an expert in bipolar disease, who is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist specializing in several areas including mood and anxiety disorders and dual diagnoses of developmental disabilities and mental illness. She pointed out that 16 million people have depression; it’s a significant and lethal disease.