Symbax—the Zyprexa/Prozac Eli Lilly combo drug approved for depression

This drug was approved quite a long time ago for “bipolar-depression,” and has now been approved for plain old garden variety depression, uh, make that “treatment resistant” garden-variety depression which seems to be about 70% of depression because, well, the treatment psychiatry routinely uses DON’T work. Nope antidepressants routinely don’t work, so now they want to take a sledgehammer to these folks brains with the Zyprexa and then perhaps they just will be too out of it to realize they’re still depressed. The mere thought of it makes me cringe and feel sick to my stomach.

The good news, in my opinion, although I’ve not seen how much money it makes, which would be the real measure, is that not that many people seem to be on it. In all the hundreds and maybe even thousands of people who come by this site and all the other drug withdrawal sites I’m involved in I’ve actually never encountered someone who says they are taking this crap.

From The Wall Street Journal Health Blog:

Powerful drugs for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are now available to treat depression, and the latest is a combo pill of Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa and Prozac called Symbyax.

Lilly said today that the FDA gave the green light to Symbyax after a difficult regulatory road. Symbyax has been on the market since 2003 as an approved treatment for bipolar depression, which are the down episodes associated with that disorder. Lilly has sought since 2006 to expand Symbyax’s reach to include treatment-resistant depression –- which it defines as failure to respond to two or more regular antidepressants -– but the FDA twice delayed approval for that use.

Lilly spokesman Jamaison Schuler told the Health Blog that the FDA had requested more data before acting, but he couldn’t say what kind. Zyprexa is Lilly’s best-selling antipsychotic, while Prozac is the iconic antidepressant.

Lilly touts Symbyax as the first drug for treatment-resistant depression, but Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify, which is in the same class of medicines as Zyprexa, is already being sold as an “add-on” therapy for depression. The difference is that Abilify needs to be taken with an antidepressant, whereas Symbyax can be taken alone because it combines an antipsychotic and antidepressant in one pill. Bristol-Myers spokeswoman Sonia Choi says Abilify’s studies looked at patients who had had inadequate responses to one antidepressant. (finish here)

UPDATE: Just read Furious Seasons announcement of this story and he also writes:

Separately, the agency (FDA) also approved Lilly’s request to approve Zyprexa and Prozac in separate pills to treat bipolar depression and treatment resistant depression. Seriously.

So much for a new FDA!

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

8 Responses

  1. Dennis

    I was on Zyprexa I tapered off of it for three months. I then had two weeks of severe withdrawals and than had a full blown manic episode. You know what it was still worth it to get off that damn drug. I later lost my medical insurance and needed to go to my doctor and tell him I needed to get off this drug because it costs 500 dollars a month. He told me to cut it into half for a week and then stop taking it! Insane I can’t imagine what would have happened if I would have that. If you want to get off this drug do it very slowly it’s worse than a benzo which I’m tapering off now. Boy this is fun! Diet is really important if you want to really change and balance yourself check out the macrobiotic practice it’s incredible.
    Good Luck to everyone.

  2. Sloopy

    I had a weird shrink (is there any other sort?) who claimed that Sulpiride, some obscure anti-psychotic he was drugging me with at the time, was very very safe because it is licensed in France for the treatment of depression.

    Laughable logic..

    No doubt the FDA’s approval of this olanzapine hybrid is going to be exploited in the same way. The approval will be allow some equally bogus claims to be made about Zyprexa’s safety.

    P.S. to Dennis… interesting story you tell.. I am stuck on Zyprexa.. I’ve been tapering for 15 months now – it has been the most traumatic time in my life – and there is still no end in sight…

  3. Wow. Part of me is glad I hadn’t come across your site, Gianna, before I decided to go cold turkey on the Zyprexa I’d been on for a couple of years. The rest of me goes ‘eep’ I am just *so* lucky not to have had serious complications.

    Either way the Zyprexa+ combo couldn’t sound more dangerous ‘eh. I think you’re right and it’ll be the rare individual who’s on it – $$ and the fact that folks rarely optimally take an antipsychotic and an antidepressant at the same time during the day.

  4. naturalgal

    Hi Gianna.

    I wanted to also say welcome to Dennis, and Sloopy you may have said it, but I didn’t realize you were on Zyprexa too.

    I went to weight watchers last night and I met a friend who doesn’t usually come at that time slot. She said she didn’t know I had been overweight. (She had been 50 pounds overweight in high school but is almost at goal weight now) I told her that I had never had a problem with weight until I had taken a medication…..But I am even careful about that because the next thing you know they want to know what medication.

    Anyway, even though my family has a medical background…or because of it….it was the rapid weight can that got my mother’s approval of getting off that crazy med. She didn’t want me getting diabetes. And Dennis….yes the cost. There was a two year time between when I got disability and when I got some med coverage…I simply could not afford Zyprexa…..it was the best thing that cold have happened to me.

Comments are closed.