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Zyprexa / Olanzapine - Antipsychotic Drug Information

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Updated June 18, 2013

Zyprexa - generic Olanzapine - is called an atypical antipsychotic medication. According to the manufacturer, Eli Lilly, it was the first in this group to be approved for the short-term treatment of bipolar mania, where it acts as a mood stabilizer, and for long-term therapy for schizophrenia, as it helps to control hallucinations, delusions, apathy and withdrawal.

The manufacturer recommends that a patient take Zyprexa at the same time daily; if you miss a dose by more than half a day or so, do not take the missed dose, just start again at your regular time. It is not necessary to take this medication with food. Alcohol should not be used when taking olanzapine.

There is also an injectable form of the drug, Zyprexa Relprevv.

Most people feel the effects of Zyprexa within a week of beginning treatment, but various factors can reduce or extend this time period.

This drug has been found effective for treating dementia in Alzheimer's patients and for juvenile bipolar disorder (patients 5-14 were included in the study). Unfortunately, weight gain was a significant side effect in the juvenile study.

Drug Interactions of Importance to Bipolars
Carbamazepine / Tegretol, Others - may cause Zyprexa to pass through the system more quickly, thus making it less effective.

Fluvoxamine / Luvoxx - slows the rate at which Zyprexa clears out of the system. A lower dose than would otherwise be prescribed may be best for someone taking both Zyprexa and Luvoxx.

Food Interaction
Olanzapine tablets contain lactose. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are lactose-intolerant before accepting a prescription for Zyprexa.

Pregnancy/Breast-feeding
No studies have established the effect of olanzapine during pregnancy or nursing, but based on animal testing, the manufacturer recommends not taking this drug at either time.

Side Effects
The most commonly reported side effects are:

  • Sleepiness or excessive sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
Weight Gain
In one long-term, more than half of patients experienced significant weight gain - more than 7% of their original body weight. In another study, just under one-quarter of patience gained that much weight. One study indicated that the ulcer drug Nizatine (axid) cut the weight gain associated with Zyprexa in half, but Nizatine has not been approved for this kind of use. Patients are urged to increase exercise and moderate diet when taking Zyprexa.

Alerts
A rare but very dangerous side effect of this class of drugs is neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), a potentially fatal combination of symptoms. Signs of NMS include muscle rigidity, altered mental status, high fever, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate and cardiac dysrhythmia.

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a potentially irreversible, involuntary movement that may develop. The highest prevalence of TD is in the elderly, particularly women. On the other hand, Zyprexa was found in one study to be helpful in reducing tardive dyskinesia in a study of schizophrenic patients who already suffered from TD symptoms.

It has been reported that increased sensitivity to heat may occur due to reduced sweating. Be sure to drink plenty of water, especially in hot weather or before and after exercising.

On March 1, 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration "asked all manufacturers of atypical antipsychotic medications, including Lilly, to add a Warning statement describing the increased risk of hyperglycemia and diabetes in patients taking these medications, including Zyprexa."

Disclaimer: This profile is not intended to be all-inclusive or to replace information provided by your doctor or with the prescription from the manufacturer.

Additional Resources:

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Bipolar Disorder
  4. Medications
  5. Antipsychotics
  6. Zyprexa
  7. Zyprexa Medication Profile - Olanzapine - atypical antipsychotic drug

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