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Information On Zyprexa

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Approved by the FDA in 1996, Zyprexa is the brand name for Olanzapine, an antipsychotic drug used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Developed by Eli Lilly and Company, it is only the second drug to ever gain the favor of the FDA in treating atypical psychoses. The first such pharmaceutical was Clozapine which was approved in 1989.

Zyprexa primarily functions by inhibiting access to the nerve receptors of several neurotransmitters within the brain. This inhibiting behavior is accomplished by binding to the receptors of the neurotransmitters, effectively blocking their access. The receptors in question include dopamine, histamine H-1, alpha-1, muscarinic, and serotonin type two. Put simply, chemicals within the brain that would typically utilize these receptors as pathways have a more difficult time of freely flowing throughout the brain.

Although the exact method by which Zyprexa achieves its usefulness is currently unknown and often hotly debated, the concept behind its development is simple enough to understand. It is believed that an excess, and thereby an imbalance, of the chemicals which would normally bind with the aforementioned receptors gives way to schizophrenic and bipolar behaviors. In order to relieve these symptoms, the presence of these chemicals and their movement throughout the brain must be controlled. Thus, simply blocking any chemical's path through the brain, by blocking that chemical's receptor, will lessen its movement and in turn decrease any atypical behaviors associated with it.

Facts about Zyprexa
Since its approval by the FDA in 1996, Zyprexa has been prescribed to over 16 million people worldwide. The documented benefits of Zyprexa over other antipsychotics include less nervousness, increased concentration, and fewer hallucinations. However, in comparison to older drugs such as Haldol, there are no great benefits in terms of the reduction of bipolar or schizophrenic episodes outside of those stated. At the same time, Zyprexa is four times more expensive than other drugs.

Of course, the pitfalls of Zyprexa have to be taken with a grain of salt. Most of the negative information available today comes from a single study published in the July 2002 issue of Pharmacotherapy and mainly covers the appearance of diabetes in patients taking the drug. In the study, researchers found that nearly 300 patients taking Zyprexa developed, or were found to have, type two diabetes. In reality, the report failed to make clear that the "nearly 300 patients" were actually the monitored group of 288 individuals with symptoms of bipolar disorder participating over a period of eight years. What the study also failed to mention was that diabetes is extremely prevalent in individuals suffering from any bipolar disorder in the first place. Further, the study did not take into account the diet, lifestyles, and medical histories of those participants. Thus, no clear conclusion can be drawn that taking Zyprexa results in the development of diabetes.

That's not to say there aren't problems with the medication. One of the most problematic areas that has yet to be addressed by pharmaceutical companies is that of weight gain. It is widely documented that the majority of medications prescribed for bipolar disorders can cause weight gain. The extent to which a person may be affected by this varies greatly from one person and prescription to the next. Unfortunately, Zyprexa has been demonstrated to be slightly more inclined to cause weight gain when compared to similar medications.

There are a couple of additional effects of Zyprexa that are worthy of note. Patients experiencing tremors or restlessness when taking other medications were reported to have fewer episodes of both while taking Zyprexa. Also, reported incidents of anorexia, nausea, and insomnia were fewer than those reported by people taking other similar drugs.

As the data on Zyprexa continues to become available, physicians are left with the routine conundrum of whether to prescribe the medication or not. However, since its approval in 1996 most physicians have reported prescribing the medication for people suffering from schizophrenic or bipolar disorders. According to several physicians, the benefits of Zyprexa outweigh any possible risks posed by the drug. When compared with older drugs used to treat such symptoms, even the patients have weighed in the on the side of Zyprexa.

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