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Zyprexa Linked to Falls and Fractures in Seniors

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Toronto, CanadaA new study suggests that Zyprexa side effects could include an increased risk of falls and fractures in seniors. Zyprexa is an atypical antipsychotic medication, but it is often prescribed off-label to treat dementia and behavior issues in seniors. Zyprexa has also been linked to an increased risk of diabetes.

According to a study published online in JAMA Internal Medicine (1/12/15), seniors newly taking atypical antipsychotic medication had a higher risk of specific fractures and hospital visits following a fall. Specifically, adults over the age of 64 faced a 53 percent increased risk of falling.

The study involved an analysis of information from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Ontario, Canada. Seniors who received a new prescription for an atypical antipsychotic from June 1, 2003 and December 31, 2011 were compared with those who did not receive a prescription. The patients were followed for 90 days to determine if they had any hospital visits linked to falls and/or fractures.

Seniors newly taking an antipsychotic medication were more likely than those in the comparison group to suffer a fall and were also more likely to suffer a fracture. However, the cause of that link is unclear.

Eli Lilly has come under fire for Zyprexa before. In 2007, the company agreed to pay approximately $1.4 billion to settle lawsuits alleging patients developed serious side effects as a result of taking the medication.

Patients have been prescribed Zyprexa for off-label uses. Although it is not illegal for doctors to prescribe medications off-label, it is illegal for companies to market their drugs for unapproved uses. In 2009, Eli Lilly paid more than $1 billion to settle allegations from the US Department of Justice that the company illegally marketed Zyprexa for unapproved uses. According to a press release involving charges filed against Lilly (found online at http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/CriminalInvestigations/ucm260967.htm; 1/15/9), Eli Lilly not only promoted Zyprexa for off-label treatment of “dementia, Alzheimer's agitation, aggression, hostility and generalized sleep disorder,” it touted adverse events of Zyprexa as being benefits.

“Because one of Zyprexa’s side effects is sedation, Eli Lilly directed its long-term care sales force to tell doctors that Zyprexa would help patients with sleep problems, behavioral issues, and dementia,” the Justice Department noted.

When the lawsuit was settled, Zyprexa was approved to treat schizophrenia and certain types of bipolar disorder, according to the Justice Department.

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