Bristol-Myers Squibb and Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co say that their

antipsychotic medication Abilify significantly delayed relapses in adults with bipolar disorder over a two-year period.

The findings of a study published in a supplement to the journal Neuropsychopharmacology showed that patients were initially stabilised with Abilify (aripiprazole) for at least six weeks following an episode of mania or a mixed episode – both mania and depression.

Of the 161 adults who entered the trial, 67 completed the 26-week phase but only 12 managed to finish the entire 100-week duration of the study. However, such drop-out rates are common in long-term studies of people with bipolar disorder, according to B-MS.

Abilify has become a vital drug for B-MS of late and sales for the third quarter reached $233 million, a 20% rise on the previous year. Any boost to sales this latest study provides will be more than welcome, especially given the impact generic competition to the antithrombotic Plavix (clopidogrel) and the cholesterol-lowerer Pravachol (pravastatin) are having on B-MS’ earnings.