Q: What is Zyprexa?
A: Zyprexa (olanzapine) is in a class of medications called atypical antipsychotics. Antipsychotic medicines are used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia that may include hearing voices, seeing things, or sensing things that are not there, mistaken beliefs or unusual suspiciousness. Zyprexa is made by Eli Lilly and Company and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996.
Q: Has there been any recent news about Zyprexa?
A: In April 2005, the FDA issued an alert stating that older patients treated with atypical antipsychotic medicines, such as Zyprexa, for dementia had a higher chance for death than patients who did not take the medicine. The FDA stated further that this is not an approved use and has asked the companies that make these medicines to change their labels to include this important information. In 2009, Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to the charge that it illegally marketed Zyprexa and paid $1.42 billion to settle civil suits and end the criminal investigation.
Q: Are there any serious health risks associated with Zyprexa?
A: Zyprexa and other antipsychotic medications can cause serious problems including Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS) (a life-threatening nervous system problem), Tardive Dyskinesia (TD) (a movement problem), high blood sugar and diabetes, and strokes in older patients treated for mental illness from dementia. Other serious side effects from Zyprexa use may include low blood pressure (seen as dizziness and possible fainting), increased heartbeat, seizures, liver problems, increased body temperature, and difficulty swallowing.
Q: What are the most common side effects associated with Zyprexa?
A: The most common side effects from Zyprexa use include sleepiness, dry mouth, dizziness, restlessness, constipation, upset stomach, weight gain, increased appetite, and tremor.
Q: What should I tell my healthcare professional before he or she prescribes Zyprexa?
A: Before you start taking Zyprexa, tell your healthcare professional if you have or had heart problems, have or have had seizures, have or had diabetes or increased blood sugar, have or had liver disease, are trying to become pregnant, are already pregnant, are breast-feeding, drink alcohol, or have a condition called phenylketonuria.
Q: Are there any interactions between Zyprexa and other drugs or foods?
A: Because certain other medications can interact with Zyprexa, you should talk first with your healthcare professional about all prescription and non-prescription medicines you are taking. You should also avoid drinking alcohol while taking Zyprexa.
Q: What should I do if I think I have been injured as a result of taking Zyprexa?
A: A drug manufacturer has a duty to make its products as reasonably safe as possible, and to inform the public of known risks. If a manufacturer fails to do so and patients are injured, it can be held legally responsible under product liability laws.
If you or a loved one has experienced any dangerous symptoms or unusual medical conditions while taking Zyprexa, you should first contact your doctor or other healthcare professional. You may also wish to meet with an experienced attorney to discuss your options and to protect your right to a legal remedy for any injuries caused by Zyprexa use.