More Worries Over Zyprexa, Seroquel, Other Antipsychotics

Some antipsychotic medications, including <"">Zyprexa and <"">Seroquel, have been linked to a variety of adverse health reactions including weight gain, hyperglycemia, and hyperlipidemia. Science Daily reports that the current issue of the journal Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier, contains a piece in which researchers write about metabolic side effects linked to some antipsychotics and how these effects can increase risks for cardiac-related diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

One significant issue with this link is that the severely mentally ill—the demographic most prescribed antipsychotics—have a higher risk of cardiovascular death than the general population, said Science Daily.

The new study utilized data from the multi-center CATIE (Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness) study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, said Science Daily. Jonathan Meyer and colleagues looked at a variety of antipsychotic medications’ effects on systemic inflammation and found the drugs increased “inflammation markers,” specifically, Zyprexa (generic: olanzapine) made by Eli Lilly and Co. and Seroquel (generic: quetiapine), made by AstraZeneca, said Science Daily.

Systemic inflammation, said Science Daily, has recently been found to be “an important marker” in cardiovascular risk; however, the link between antipsychotic medications and inflammatory markers was never looked at this deeply until now. Some of the markers are known to be linked to the “development or progression” of a variety of illnesses, namely stroke and cardiac disease, said Science Daily.

“This analysis provides the most compelling evidence to date that differences in antipsychotic metabolic liability are also seen with markers of systemic inflammation,” explained Dr. Meyer, quoted Science Daily. “It also provides an impetus for monitoring cardiovascular risk markers in antipsychotic treated patients.”

It has long been known and we have long written about the association between weight gain and antipsychotics and we recently wrote about another study that points to even deeper increases. In that study, researchers discovered that while increases in weight were dependent on the drug, the gains appeared in the entire spectrum of atypical antipsychotic medications, reported Forbes previously. The study found that weight gains of 10-to-20 pounds were not unusual in children during their first three months on the medications like Zyprexa, Seroquel, Risperdal, and Abilify. Also, cholesterol, triglyceride, and other metabolic “parameters” were elevated, said Forbes.

A serious issue with the findings is that children are being prescribed these powerful medications for diagnoses that are not psychotic in nature, such as aggression, sleep problems, and attention deficit disorder (ADD), noted Forbes. Experts feel these children would benefit from milder drugs and counseling. Another issue is a diagnosis that is growing in popularity. Pediatric bipolar disorder can be treated with atypical antipsychotics; however, diagnosis criteria is considered weak, reported Forbes.

The research found that children on Zyprexa gained 19 pounds in three months; children taking Seroquel, Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal, and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify gained 10 to 13 pounds in the same time frame, said Forbes. Meanwhile, Seroquel and Zyprexa were linked to “statistically significant” cholesterol level increases and Seroquel, Zyprexa, and Risperdal were found to increase triglyceride levels, added Forbes, which explained that triglycerides are fatty particles in the blood.

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