FDA Issues Stronger Warning About Metabolic Problems for Teens Taking Zyprexa

By February 2, 2010Dangerous Drugs

The psychiatric drug Zyprexa (olanzapine) has been at the center of several controversies interesting to defective drug attorneys like me, due to its illegal off-label marketing and its connection with major metabolic disorders like diabetes. On Jan. 29, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration struck another blow against the drug when it announced it will require more stringent warnings on the label about the risk of weight gain in teenagers. The FDA’s announcement said doctors should carefully consider the increased potential for weight gain and hyperlipidemia among teenagers, as opposed to adults, taking Zyprexa. It said this should lead doctors to consider prescribing other drugs, and reminded them that the drug should be part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
Zyprexa is an atypical antipsychotic approved for use in patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Research has connected its long-term use among adults to weight gain, high blood sugar, diabetes and pancreatitis. According to a Jan. 29 article on the Los Angeles Times blog Booster Shots, a study published in October showed an even more dramatic weight gain in teenagers taking Zyprexa — an average of 17 pounds over 12 weeks. The teenaged participants also had more dramatic increases in triglycerides (fats in the blood) and cholesterol levels than adult patients. The FDA cited that study in its letter informing drug maker Eli Lilly about the label order. A year ago, Lilly settled a federal lawsuit claiming it put adults at unnecessary risk of these injuries by illegally marketing Zyprexa for off-label uses like dementia and anxiety. The new FDA letter also mentions Zyprexa’s greater potential for liver damage and sedation in teenagers.
I am pleased that the FDA is taking the risk of metabolic problems from Zyprexa seriously. But as a dangerous prescription medication lawyer, I’m disappointed that the label wasn’t stronger. For one thing, seventeen pounds in 12 weeks is a very dramatic weight gain — 1.4 pounds a week. By contrast, scientists believe the average, non-dieting American adult gains half a pound to two pounds a year. With Zyprexa use, that weight gain is associated with life-altering or even life-threatening disorders like pancreatitis and diabetes. For another, the FDA’s warning entirely omitted mention of the results showing higher risks of sedation and liver damage in teenagers. Liver damage can cause permanent, lifelong disabilities, and while sedation itself may not be dangerous, it can impair judgment and motor skills, leading to dangerous situations.


If you believe you were harmed by taking Zyprexa or another prescription drug with serious side effects, you should contact the Lowe Law Firm for help. Based in St. Louis and Belleville, Ill., we represent people around the United States who are seeking to hold drug companies legally and financially responsible for marketing a dangerous medication. Our pharmaceutical liability lawyers have focused on Zyprexa for several years because of its association with diabetes and other life-altering metabolic disorders. That means we understand the complex medical and legal issues that underlie this drug’s history. Just as importantly, we have a record of successful recoveries for patients involved in litigation against major pharmaceutical companies — winning them money they can use to get medical care, support themselves and put their lives together.
Carey, Danis & Lowe offers free, confidential case evaluations, so you risk nothing by telling us your story and learning more about how we can help. To set up a meeting, you can call us toll-free at 1-877-678-3400 or contact us through our Web site.