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Abilify Effective Against Behavioral Symptoms of ASD

By Chelsea Toledo, M.A. on February 27, 2019

Background: While no standardized treatment exists to treat the symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a range of therapeutic strategies may be employed, depending on the specifics of a particular ASD case. Because of the overlap between ASD and certain mental health conditions, some research has focused on the possibility of treating ASD with existing pharmaceutical therapies.


What’s New: A recent review compiled evidence from a series of clinical studies and trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of the drug aripiprazole in treating people with ASD. Aripiprazole, manufactured by Otsuka under the brand name Abilify, is an antipsychotic drug commonly used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, and major depression. In recent years, aripiprazole was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat irritability in children and adolescents with ASD.


Combining the results from three studies evaluating results in 408 participants between 1995 and 2017, the researchers found:


  • Aripiprazole was safe and well-tolerated among the study participants.
  • Aripiprazole was effective in treating behavioral ASD symptoms, including irritability, hyperactivity, noncompliance, and repetitive movements.
  • Aripiprazole was not effective in treating lethargy or social withdrawal in participants with ASD.


Why it’s important: This article suggests that aripiprazole may be an effective treatment strategy for some people with behavioral issues related to ASD. Future research on a larger sample of individuals could clarify the best contexts for leveraging aripiprazole.

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