Zyprexa and Diabetes

by on June 29, 2012


Zyprexa (olanzapine) is an atypical antipsychotic used to treat emotional and neurologic conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Like any other medication, Zyprexa is not free of side effects. Aside from bothersome reactions, this medication can also cause a few side effects that should be taken seriously. Diabetes is one of these. Studies show that atypical antipsychotic medications, including Zyprexa, may increase the risk of diabetes. These medications can also worsen preexisting diabetes.

What Studies Say?

Clinical studies show that between 1 in every 100 and 1 in every 1,000 users of Zyprexa developed diabetes. Post-marketing studies have shown several cases of abnormally high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) which has even led to coma or death.

How Zyprexa causes diabetes is not entirely clear although there are several factors that can probably contribute to the development of diabetes in patients taking Zyprexa. Some studies suggest that people with schizophrenia are generally at increased risk of developing diabetes, regardless of the medication they currently take. The average diet and lifestyle of these patients put them at increased the risk of diabetes.

It is also thought that the biochemical changes caused by atypical antipsychotic medications predispose users to diabetes. Zyprexa may have direct effects on the body’s insulin production, though the exact mechanism remains unknown. Perhaps, this is also the reason behind weight gain caused by Zyprexa.

A recent study also shows that young children and adolescents using Zyprexa are at higher risk of developing diabetes and weight gain. These factors all contribute to the incidence of diabetes among patients using Zyprexa. For people with undiagnosed diabetes, Zyprexa can worsen the condition. Patients who are at high risk for developing diabetes must discuss with their healthcare provider their complete health history.

If you have existing diabetes, you should closely monitor your blood sugar levels. In case the diabetes worsens, your antidiabetic drug and/or Zyprexa dose may be adjusted accordingly. If you are a known diabetic, your healthcare provider may put you under close medical supervision throughout treatment with Zyprexa.