The risk of suicide in patients taking Zyprexa may be higher than many people think. According to the FDA-approved label for Zyprexa, suicide is listed as an infrequent adverse event, which means that it occurs more frequently than events listed in the "rare" category. Infrequent adverse events occur in between 1/100 and 1/1000 patients. Diabetes mellitus is also listed as an infrequent adverse event.
At least one study, conducted in 2002, showed that a different drug reduces the number of suicide attempts in patients with schizophrenia. The study compared the number of suicide attempts between patients on the other drug and patients taking olanzapine (Zyprexa). One study author went on record as saying that for every 13 patients treated with the different drug instead of Zyprexa, one suicide attempt or one hospitalization to prevent suicide would be prevented.
In a letter to Canadian clinicians (September 7, 2004) Lilly outlined inappropriate uses of Zyprexa that the company knew of. In one such case, a patient who was given more than the recommended daily dose committed suicide.
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Zyprexa is approved as a treatment for bipolar mania and schizophrenia. However, it has also been used off-label for anorexia, autism, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. When it was initially released on the market, Zyprexa was viewed as a "wonder drug," one that was more effective than older antipsychotic medications but without the side effects. Since that time, Zyprexa has been linked to pancreatitis, weight gain, and diabetes.
Some lawsuits have already been filed against Lilly, alleging Zyprexa was responsible for the deaths of loved ones. At least one expert in psychiatry argues that Zyprexa has the highest suicide rate of any antipsychotic in clinical history.