Zyprexa (olanzapine) is a second generation or atypical antipsychotic medication produced by Eli Lilly and Company. Second generation antipsychotics (SGA's) were believed to offer effective treatment of psychotic disorders without the significant side effects of first generation antipsychotic medications. Other second generation antipsychotics are Geodon, Risperdal and Seroquel.
Zyprexa blocks certain dopamine and serotonin receptors, which reduces symptoms of certain psychotic disorders. In 1996, the FDA approved Zyprexa for the short-term treatment of schizophrenia. In 2000, the FDA approved it for the long-term treatment of schizophrenia, and also for the short-term treatment of acute manic episodes associated with bipolar I disorder. Zyprexa is also prescribed by physicians for other purposes, not yet approved by the FDA, including treatment of dementia and anxiety.
In the early 2000's, research demonstrated that significant numbers of Zyprexa users contract diabetes, and precursor conditions such as hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and ketoacidosis, a condition where the body uses fat as an energy source when glucose is not available, resulting in the build-up of ketones in the bloodstream (ketosis). In 2003 the FDA required that the class of drugs known as atypical antipsychotics, including Zyprexa, include warnings about increased risk to patients of development of diabetes and hyperglycemia. In 2004, a federal prosecutor announced an investigation of Eli Lilly, in relation to the techniques it has used to market Zyprexa.
In 2007, Eli Lilly paid approximately $500 million to settle 18,000 lawsuits alleging injury to patients who took Zyprexa. New allegations have since been made about the safety of Zyprexa, including possible association with cardiac arrest. Zyprexa remains on the market.