Oh, the Irony—Does an Insulin Maker’s Schizophrenia Drug Cause Diabetes?

| Nov 1, 2002

Zyprexa (olanzapine), which belongs to a family of drugs known as atypical anti-psychotics, could be a factor in the development of diabetes.

The drug, manufactured by Eli Lilly, is used to treat schizophrenia, paranoia, and manic-depressive disorders, according to a news release from Duke University.

In a retrospective study, researchers from Duke University and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration identified 237 cases of diabetes between January 1994 and May 15 2001, in people who had taken Zyprexa—including 188 newly diagnosed cases. Of the total, 80 people developed ketosis, 41 had glucose levels of 1,000 mg/dl or higher and there were 15 deaths. Nearly three-quarters of the cases began within six months of starting treatment with Zyprexa.

While it is uncertain that Zyprexa causes diabetes, researchers say that the number of reports, their relationship to the initiation of Zyprexa and improved blood-glucose control when the drug is stopped suggest that it is responsible for either precipitating or unmasking diabetes in people who are susceptible.

—Pharmacotherapy, July 2002

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