Ziprasidone is an anti-psychotic drug marketed under the name Geodon, and it prescribed to treat people with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. In December of 2014, the FDA issued a warning that Geodon and its generics could cause a “rare but serious skin reaction that can progress to affect other parts of the body” known as Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms, or DRESS. According to the FDA, none of the patients exhibiting signs of DRESS have died, but Pfizer, who manufactures Geodon, must include a warning label on the drugs from now on.
What is DRESS?
- Increased counts of eosinophils, a type of white blood cell
- Organ inflammation, affecting the heart, kidneys, liver, lungs or pancreas
- Spreading rash
- Swollen lymph nodes
About 2.5 million people have been prescribed or are currently taking Geodon or one of its generics. Patients are encouraged to speak to a doctor right away if they experience any symptoms; the doctor will inform the patients whether or not to continue using the drug.
The hidden side effects of anti-psychotic medications
Geodon is the newest in a line of anti-psychotic drugs with potentially dangerous side effects. Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal has been known to cause gynecomastia in young men, and Otsuka Pharmaceutical’s Abilify has been linked to compulsive gambling. Though second-generation anti-psychotics like these are supposed to lessen the physical side effects of first-generation drugs, Geodon can still cause some of those same side effects. The drug may cause tics, increase the chance of developing diabetes, or cause a patient to have seizures.
Though these side effects may not always be serious in adults, they can affect children negatively, which is why the FDA does not always approve these medications for children. This has not stopped Pfizer from trying to get doctors to prescribe it to children, however. The Department of Justice even sued Pfizer in 2009 for marketing Geodon and other drugs for off-label uses.
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