Zyprexa, a popular drug used to treat the mental disorders schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, is now available in generic versions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the generic versions on Monday, according to a news release.
The drug is available in regular tablets and orally disintegrating tablets, according to the news release.
Zyprexa, or Olanzapine, can cause different side effects like drowsiness, restlessness, depression, strange behavior, weakness, weight gain, sexual issues, dizziness, abnormal periods, breast growth and constipation, according to an article from the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
David Reiss, a psychiatrist and soon-to-be interim medical director of Providence Behavioral Health Hospital, said in an email that the availability of generic versions for Zyprexa is important for some patients.
“For patients who do well on Zyprexa without significant side effects (and I have seen some people for whom that definitely is the most effective agent), the availability of a cheaper version, and perhaps increased coverage by insurance companies, can be very significant,” Reiss said. “Any time there is a cheaper but equivalent version of a medication available, it allows for more flexibility in prescribing due to the practical issue of cost.”
He said he has experience prescribing Zyprexa over the years, and that it can be very effective compared to other similar medications, but it depends on the individual patient.
“In my practice, and ... most psychiatrists I know would agree, Zyprexa/olanzapine is often very effective, and for some patients, the most effective anti-psychotic,” Reiss said. “ However, there is the very significant ‘down-side’ that Zyprexa has probably the most risk among the anti-psychotics of causing metabolic changes, diabetes and weight gain.”
Due to the likely side effects, he said he only suggests Zyprexa for patients if other medications are ineffective. Also, he added that generic drugs in general can be less effective than brand name medications.
“Theoretically, there should be no difference between generic and brand-name medications,” Reiss said.