Zyprexa Overview - FindLaw
Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors| Last reviewed January 28, 2013
What is Zyprexa?
Zyprexa (olanzapine) is in a class of medications called atypical antipsychotics. Antipsychotic medicines are approved to treat symptoms of schizophrenia that may include hearing voices, seeing things, sensing things that are not there, mistaken beliefs, and unusual suspiciousness.
Zyprexa is approved to treat mixed or manic episodes in adults who have a condition called Bipolar I disorder, and may also be used with lithium or valproate for short-term treatment of acute manic episodes of bipolar disorder.
Zyprexa is made by Eli Lilly and Company and was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1996.
Zyprexa FDA Alert
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.
Zyprexa Health Risks
Zyprexa and other antipsychotic medications can cause serious problems such as:
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS), a life-threatening nervous system problem, which can cause high fever, stiff muscles, sweating, fast or irregular heart beat, change in blood pressure, and confusion. NMS can also affect your kidneys and is a medical emergency. Call your healthcare professional right away if you experience these symptoms.
- Tardive Dyskinesia (TD), a movement problem. Call your healthcare professional right away if you get muscle movements that cannot be stopped.
- High blood sugar and diabetes. Patients with diabetes or who have a higher chance for diabetes should have their blood sugar checked often.
- Strokes have occurred in older patients treated for mental illness from dementia. Zyprexa is not approved for this use.
Other serious side effects from Zyprexa use include:
- low blood pressure (seen as dizziness and possible fainting)
- increased heart beat
- liver problems
- increased body temperature
- difficulty swallowing
The most common side effects from Zyprexa use include:
- dry mouth
- upset stomach
- weight gain
- increased appetite
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Professional?
Before you start taking Zyprexa, tell your healthcare professional if you:
- have or had heart problems
- have or had seizures
- have or had diabetes or increased blood sugar
- have or had liver disease
- are trying to become pregnant, are already pregnant, or are breast-feeding
- drink alcohol
- have a condition called phenylketonuria
Interactions With Other Drugs or Foods
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.
Your healthcare professional may have to adjust your dose or watch you more closely if you take the following medications:
- blood pressure medicines
- levodopa and other medicines called dopamine agonists
Avoid drinking alcohol while taking Zyprexa.
Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Taking Zyprexa?
Dizziness (and sometimes fainting) caused by a drop in blood pressure may occur with Zyprexa, especially when you first start taking Zyprexa or when the dose is increased.
Zyprexa may impair judgment, thinking, or motor skills. You should be careful when operating machinery, including automobiles, until you know how Zyprexa affects you.
It is important to avoid overheating and dehydration while taking Zyprexa, because Zyprexa use may make it harder to lower your body temperature.
Zyprexa - Getting Legal Help
While all medications have certain anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to make its products as reasonably safe as possible, and to inform the medical community and the public of known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held legally responsible if patients are injured as the result of inadequate warnings or the unreasonably dangerous nature of the drug, under a legal theory called "product liability."
If you or a loved one have 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.
- Go here to learn more about an attorney's role in a pharmaceutical liability case.
- To find an experienced attorney, use the "Find a Lawyer" tool on this page, or click here.