Abilify vs Vraylar

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For patients suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or major depressive disorder (MDD), certain drugs that modify concentrations of compounds in the brain linked to mood and perception, termed neurotransmitters, can assist in stabilizing extreme moods and managing symptoms. Abilify and Vraylar are two such antipsychotic medications often prescribed for these conditions. They each influence different neurotransmitters in the brain but both have mood-stabilizing effects on patients with bipolar disorder or MDD. Abilify is classified as a partial dopamine agonist with additional serotonergic activity, primarily affecting levels of dopamine and serotonin. On the other hand, Vraylar is a dopamine D2 and serotonin 5-HT1A receptor partial agonist and a serotonin 5-HT2A receptor antagonist also influencing levels of dopamine and serotonin but through slightly different mechanisms.

What is Abilify?

Aripiprazole (the generic name for Abilify) was a significant advancement in the second generation of antipsychotic medications, also known as atypical antipsychotics. Aripiprazole was first approved by the FDA in 2002. It works by partially activating dopamine receptors and adjusting serotonin levels to help regulate mood and behavior. It is commonly prescribed for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and irritability associated with autism.

On the other hand, Cariprazine (Vraylar) is another atypical antipsychotic that was later introduced - it got its approval from FDA in 2015. Vraylar similarly has an effect on both dopamine and serotonin receptors but does so by acting as a partial agonist at certain receptor sites while blocking others completely.

While both drugs have similar uses and work on similar neurotransmitters, their side effects can vary significantly due to their distinct chemical structures and mechanism of action. Therefore it's crucial to consult with your healthcare provider about which medication could be most suitable considering your unique circumstance.

What conditions is Abilify approved to treat?

Abilify and Vraylar are both approved for the treatment of specific mental health conditions:

  • Abilify is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), major depressive disorder (when used with other medications)
  • Vraylar is also used to treat schizophrenia and manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder. However, it can additionally be indicated for depressive episodes associated with bipolar I disorder as a monotherapy.

How does Abilify help with these illnesses?

Abilify works to manage the symptoms of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, by regulating dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. It does this by acting as a partial agonist at dopamine D2 receptors and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors while also acting as an antagonist at 5-HT2A receptors. This means that it partially stimulates dopamine and serotonin production while blocking overactivity, thereby helping to balance these neurotransmitters. Dopamine plays a crucial role in mood regulation, motivation, reward, and attention whereas serotonin is involved with mood stability, cognition, memory formation etc., amongst other things. Therefore individuals with psychotic disorders often have imbalances of these neurotransmitters which can manifest into delusions or hallucinations; thus by modulating their activity Abilify can help manage these conditions effectively.

On the other hand Vraylar (cariprazine) has a similar but somewhat different mechanism - it acts primarily as a partial agonist at dopamine D3/D2 receptor where its binding affinity towards D3 receptor is ten times higher than for D2 receptor; additionally it exhibits high binding affinity towards 5HT1a receptors just like abilify but unlike abilify , cariprazine doesn't antagonize any of the serotonergic receptors instead shows antagonistic property against H1 histaminergic receptor . These differences in drug's action might make one more preferable over another depending on patient's individual need.

What is Vraylar?

Vraylar is a brand name for cariprazine, an atypical antipsychotic that primarily works by acting as a partial agonist of the dopamine D2 and D3 receptors in the brain. This means it enhances dopaminergic neurotransmission where dopamine is deficient and blocks excessive dopaminergic activity where it's too high. Vraylar also acts on serotonin receptors, specifically as an antagonist to 5-HT2A receptor and a partial agonist to 5-HT1A receptor. The drug was first approved by the FDA in 2015.

Because Vraylar isn't an SSRI antidepressant, it doesn't inhibit reuptake of serotonin; this results in its side effects differing from SSRIs like Abilify. In particular, Vraylar does not typically cause sedation or significant weight gain (common side effects with some other atypical antipsychotics). Its unique action on both dopamine and serotonin can be beneficial for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, especially among patients who don't respond well to more "typical" treatment options such as Abilify.

What conditions is Vraylar approved to treat?

Vraylar has gained approval from the FDA for treating conditions such as:

  • Schizophrenia, a chronic and severe mental disorder affecting how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.
  • Bipolar I Disorder, characterized by manic episodes with or without major depressive episodes.

It's important to note that while both Abilify and Vraylar are antipsychotic medications used in managing similar conditions, their side effects may differ. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen.

How does Vraylar help with these illnesses?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays roles in how we feel pleasure. It's a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. Like serotonin, low levels of dopamine have been implicated in certain psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Vraylar works by balancing the actions of dopamine (and also serotonin) within the brain, thereby alleviating some symptoms associated with these conditions. Its action on both these neurotransmitters may play key roles in its efficacy as an antipsychotic medication. Unlike Abilify which has partial agonist activity for dopamine receptors (stimulating them when low), Vraylar acts as both an antagonist or agonist depending on whether the levels are high or low respectively - it essentially modulates the function creating more balance which could potentially result in fewer side effects. This makes it often preferred when a patient does not respond well to other typical atypical antipsychotics like Abilify, or it may be combined with them for better results.

How effective are both Abilify and Vraylar?

Aripiprazole (Abilify) and cariprazine (Vraylar) are both antipsychotic medications that have demonstrated efficacy in treating patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Abilify was approved by the FDA in 2002 while Vraylar gained its approval more recently in 2015. Both drugs work by modulating dopamine and serotonin receptors; however, they differ slightly in their affinities for these receptors which may lead to different clinical outcomes.

In a direct comparison study published in 2019, Aripiprazole and cariprazine were found to be similarly effective at managing symptoms of schizophrenia. However, patients taking cariprazine experienced fewer metabolic side effects such as weight gain compared to those taking aripiprazole.

A meta-analysis review conducted on Abilify's effectiveness showed it is capable of alleviating symptoms of depression within the first week of treatment when used adjunctively with an antidepressant drug - this makes it one of the most widely prescribed second-generation antipsychotics worldwide for adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder. It has also been shown that Abilify can reduce suicidal ideation and behavior among some populations suffering from mood disorders.

On the other hand, Vraylar has been shown through reviews and meta-analyses to be more effective than placebo not only for acute manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder but also for maintenance treatment following an acute manic episode. While data confirming its efficacy as standalone therapy is robust due to extensive research into its use as monotherapy during clinical trials prior to gaining FDA approval. Like Abilify though, Vraylar can play a crucial role alongside other treatments particularly if there's need to avoid certain common side effects linked primarily with first-line therapies like Lithium or Valproate.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Abilify typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Abilify for adults with schizophrenia range from 10-30 mg/day, but studies have indicated that a 15 mg/day dose is generally sufficient. Adolescents aged 13 to 17 may be started on a dosage of 2mg/day which can be increased to up to 30mg/day after two weeks if necessary. For Vraylar, adult dosages in the treatment of schizophrenia usually range between 1.5 -6 mg/day, and clinical trials suggest even the lowest dose can be effective. As Vraylar has not been studied extensively in populations under the age of 18, its use is typically reserved for adults only. In both cases, these medications should always be taken as directed by a healthcare professional, and any increase in dosage should only occur under their guidance.

At what dose is Vraylar typically prescribed?

Vraylar treatment is typically initiated at a dosage of 1.5 mg/day for both bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Depending on the individual's response and tolerance, the dose can then be increased to 3-6 mg/day, administered as a single dose each day. The maximum recommended daily dose is 6 mg, which may be tested if there is no satisfactory response after two weeks of therapy at lower doses. It's crucial to remember that Vraylar should not be taken more than once in a 24-hour period and any increase or alterations in dosing should only occur under medical supervision.

What are the most common side effects for Abilify?

Common side effects of Abilify and Vraylar can include:

  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or drowsiness
  • Tremor (unintentional trembling or shaking)
  • Nervousness
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Nausea, vomiting, indigestion (burning sensation in the digestive tract), constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Rash and other skin issues -Sweating excessively -Unusual dreams
    -Akathisia (feeling of inner restlessness) -Dizziness when standing up too quickly due to low blood pressure -In some rare cases, these drugs can cause flu-like symptoms. -Yawning

Remember that not everyone will experience these side effects. Some may experience none at all. Always consult your healthcare provider if any new symptoms appear while taking either medication.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Abilify?

While rare, both Abilify and Vraylar can cause serious side effects such as:

  • Increased thoughts about suicide or self-harm
  • Signs of allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS): this is a severe nervous system reaction that presents symptoms like high fever, sweating, stiff muscles, confusion, fast or irregular heartbeats
  • Tardive dyskinesia: uncontrollable movements of the eyes, tongue or other parts of the body
  • Changes in vision such as blurred vision
  • Heart problems: fast/pounding heartbeats which might be accompanied by chest pain and dizziness
  • Low levels of white blood cells leading to infection - sudden weakness or ill feeling; fever; chills; sore throat; mouth sores; red/swollen gums
  • High blood sugar - increased thirst/urination/hunger with dry mouth/fruity breath odor; Uncontrolled muscle movements in your face (chewing/tongue movement/eye movement).

If you experience any of these side effects while using either medication immediately seek medical attention. It's crucial to remember that everyone's response to medication is different and what works best will vary from person to person. Always consult with a healthcare provider for appropriate treatment options.

What are the most common side effects for Vraylar?

Vraylar, much like other antipsychotic medications, can lead to a range of side effects:

  • Dry mouth and sore throat
  • Nausea, vomiting or upset stomach that may eventually affect appetite
  • Problems with sleep such as insomnia
  • Mild tremors, sweating excessively or feelings of anxiety and restlessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Possible confusion and agitation in some cases
  • Skin rash not caused by an allergy
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Frequent urination which is more than usual amounts for the individual
    Uncommon but possible symptoms include headache and dizziness. The patient might also experience muscle stiffness or joint pain while on Vraylar. Not everyone experiences these side-effects but if they persist or worsen over time it's important to seek medical advice promptly.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Vraylar?

Vraylar, like any other medication, can lead to certain side effects. These may range from mild to severe and should be promptly reported to your healthcare provider if experienced:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing; swelling of the face, lips, tongue or throat; a rash or hives
  • Increased suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Seizures (convulsions)
  • New or worsening symptoms such as feeling agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, physically violent or mentally hyperactive
  • Blurred vision or eye pain
  • Fast heartbeats; irregular pulse
  • Signs of Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome which include high fever, stiff muscles confusion and sweating If you notice any unusual changes in mood behavior while taking Vraylar including excessive happiness/energy/talking/sleeplessness (manic episodes), immediately consult your doctor.

Contraindications for Abilify and Vraylar?

Both Abilify and Vraylar, along with most other antipsychotic medications, may worsen symptoms of depression in some people. If you notice your symptoms intensifying or an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Abilify nor Vraylar should be taken if you are taking, or have recently been on monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. Always inform your healthcare provider about any medications you are currently using; MAOIs will require a period of approximately 14 days to clear from the system to prevent dangerous interactions with both Abilify and Vraylar.

How much do Abilify and Vraylar cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 30 tablets of Abilify (5 mg) averages around $800, which works out to approximately $26-$53/day, depending on your dose.
  • The price for a box containing 30 Vraylar capsules (3mg) is about $1,200 or roughly $40 per day.

This means that if you are taking higher doses of Abilify (i.e., 15 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Vraylar can be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However, remember that cost should not be the sole factor in determining which drug is right for you.

Abilify has a generic version available called Aripiprazole:

  • Aripiprazole is sold in packs ranging from 30 to 90 tablets with an approximate daily cost between $0.60 and $2.00 for dosages between 2 mg/day and up to typical dosages of about 10 to even as high as 30 mg/day.

Vraylar, at this time does not have a generic version available hence its higher cost.

Popularity of Abilify and Vraylar

Aripiprazole, also known under the brand name Abilify, is a popular antipsychotic medication used to treat several psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. In 2020, it was estimated that about 7 million prescriptions were filled for Aripiprazole in the US. This accounted for nearly 15% of all antipsychotic prescriptions within that year.

Cariprazine, marketed as Vraylar in the United States, is another atypical antipsychotic used primarily to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Despite being relatively new on the market (approved by FDA in 2015), Cariprazine had approximately one million prescriptions filled in US during 2020. While these numbers are significantly lower than those for Aripiprazole, they demonstrate a steady increase since its introduction to the market - making it an emerging competitor within this class of medications.


Both Abilify (aripiprazole) and Vraylar (cariprazine) are used in the management of mental/mood disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. They have been backed by numerous clinical studies, demonstrating their efficacy over placebo treatments. In some cases, these drugs may be used together or with other medications to manage symptoms, but this is subject to careful consideration by a physician due to potential drug-drug interactions.

Their mechanisms of action differ somewhat; while both act on dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain, they do so in slightly different ways - Abilify acts as a partial agonist at D2 receptors whereas Vraylar has high affinity for D3 receptors. Thus, they might be chosen under different circumstances based on individual patient needs.

Both drugs are available in generic form which can represent significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out of pocket. Both Abilify and Vraylar often require an adjustment period meaning that effects may not always be noticeable right away.

The side effect profile is similar between the two drugs - both being generally well-tolerated but with distinctive profiles: weight gain is common with Abilify while akathisia (restlessness) is more associated with Vraylar use. As with all antipsychotics, patients need to closely monitor their moods when starting treatment and seek medical help immediately if they notice worsening depression or begin having suicidal thoughts or thoughts about self-harm.