Oh, the tangled web we weave, when science we manipulate in order for profits to achieve...
Oh, this story just won't go away.
Years ago, when olanzapine (Zyprexa) was fairly new to the market, my colleagues started commenting that they noticed huge weight gains (like 40-50 pounds) in short time intervals (like a month). No matter where we attempted to get information, Lilly, this drug's manufacturer, insisted that this drug did not increase weight gain.
I had the opportunity to meet one of Lilly's lead marketing guys at a national conference. We exchanged cards and when I got home I emailed him with a proposal that the team of nutritionists I was training in the area of psychotropic medications and hormone imbalances, work with Lilly to create a diabetes management educational program targeted specifically at psychiatrists, who were not specialized in this area but who appeared to need support in order to use these new medications in safe and appropriate ways.
I received an email in return, carbon copied to quite a few people at Lilly, stating that "weight gain on our medication is an unscientific rumor". (I now call this correspondence my "60 Minutes E-mail").
It wasn't 6 months before Lilly was required to put a black box warning on this very medication regarding its potential to cause diabetes. Apparently the timing of my original email struck a raw nerve.
What really bothered me about this whole situation was at the very time Lilly was insisting that that this drug did not cause weight gain, they were marketing it to eating disorder specialists as a treatment option for anorexia nervosa.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Lilly apparently wanted us to believe that the drug doesn't cause weight gain if you use it in people who don't want to gain weight, but it is very effective in causing weight gain in people who desperately need to gain weight.
Fast forward to last Friday. I'm scanning new research abstracts in Pub Med and right next to each other I see these two titles:
Olanzapine in the treatment of low body weight and obsessive thinking in women with anorexia nervosa: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.
Olanzapine (LY170053, 2-methyl-4-(4-methyl-1-piperazinyl)-10H-thieno[2,3-b][1,5] benzodiazepine), but not the novel atypical antipsychotic ST2472 (9-piperazin-1-ylpyrrolo[2,1-b][1,3]benzothiazepine), chronic administration induces weight gain, hyperphagia, and metabolic dysregulation in mice.
There is also, in Pub Med, research to suggest that this medication may trigger binge eating disorder.
So apparently, the newest, quickest way to cure anorexia is to replace it with another eating disorder. Never mind that it creates hormone imbalances that are strongly documented and have mandated a warning be placed on this drug.
I thought when we helped people with anorexia, they were supposed to be healthy in all respects. Not just normal weight with a risk of developing diabetes. Which, by the way, is starting to be associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Insert huge, frustrated, sigh...
Bissada H, Tasca GA, Barber AM, Bradwejn J. Olanzapine in the treatment of low body weight and obsessive thinking in women with anorexia nervosa: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Am J Psychiatry. 2008 Oct;165(10):1281-8. Epub 2008 Jun 16.
Coccurello R, Caprioli A, Conti R, Ghirardi O, Borsini F, Carminati P, Moles A. Olanzapine (LY170053, 2-methyl-4-(4-methyl-1-piperazinyl)-10H-thieno[2,3-b][1,5] benzodiazepine), but not the novel atypical antipsychotic ST2472 (9-piperazin-1-ylpyrrolo[2,1-b][1,3]benzothiazepine), chronic administration induces weight gain, hyperphagia, and metabolic dysregulation in mice. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2008 Sep;326(3):905-11. Epub 2008 Jun 20.
Theisen FM, Linden A, König IR, Martin M, Remschmidt H, Hebebrand J. Spectrum of binge eating symptomatology in patients treated with clozapine and olanzapine. J Neural Transm. 2003 Jan;110(1):111-21.
Gebhardt S, Haberhausen M, Krieg JC, Remschmidt H, Heinzel-Gutenbrunner M, Hebebrand J, Theisen FM. Clozapine/olanzapine-induced recurrence or deterioration of binge eating-related eating disorders. J Neural Transm. 2007;114(8):1091-5. Epub 2007 Mar 20.
Kluge M, Schuld A, Himmerich H, Dalal M, Schacht A, Wehmeier PM, Hinze-Selch D, Kraus T, Dittmann RW, Pollmächer T. Clozapine and olanzapine are associated with food craving and binge eating: results from a randomized double-blind study. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2007 Dec;27(6):662-6.
Founder of the inCYST Institute for Hormone Health, Director of Marketing for Chow Locally. I have a passion for sustainable living initiatives that involve good food, beautiful art, and warm, genuine people. I am blessed that this blog has connected me with people from all around the world and made it feel a whole lot smaller!