Weight gain has long been recognized as a common and unwelcome side effect of many medications. Last week, Duff Wilson of the New York Times, reported the findings of a recent study showing alarming rates of weight gain in children and adolescents who take some of the most popular ‘new generation' drugs for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
The study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 257 children and adolescents in New York City and on Long Island, gained up to 15 percent of body weight in just 12 weeks after taking the medication. Dr. Christopher Varley, a child psychiatrist is reported as saying kids on Zyprexa "are gaining a pound and a half a week."
The four drugs in the study were Zyprexa, Ablify, Seroquel and Risperdal. Of these, Ablify and Risperdal are the only two drugs approved as pediatric treatments. Ablify showed the least effect, although this is regarded as a weaker drug. Zyprexa showed the most marked metabolic effect, with Seroquel and Risperdal somewhere between these two.
Doctors have been loathe to prescribe older drugs such as Thorazine and Haldol, because of known side effects, but the data on new generation drugs suggests they should think twice before even these are prescribed. Rapid weight gain and disruption of metabolism can lead to chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and other diseases.
A spokesman for the drugs company Lilly who manufacture Zyprexa said the study echoed their own findings and this is why the drug has warning labels about weight gain. According to Wilson's report, the spokesman went on to say that the drug remains essential in sparing psychological suffering.
According to the research company IMS Health, in the first six months of this year Seroquel had sales of $2.2 billion; Ablify $1.9 billion; Zyprexa $1.5 billion and Risperdal $600 million.
Weight Gain Associated With Antipsychotic Drugs. By Duff Wilson. New York Times (October 28, 2009)
Published On: November 04, 2009
Living With6 Chronic Condition Guidelines to Live By
Facing the challenges5 Rules for Bipolar Relationships