Antipsychotic Drug May Reduce Chemotherapy Side Effects

Olanzapine found to reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.

An FDA approved antipsychotic agent was found to significantly reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in cancer patients.

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers discovered that the drug olanzapine was able to block neurotransmitters involved in nausea and vomiting. Patients were randomized to receive chemotherapy plus olanzapine, or chemotherapy and a placebo.

The results of the study showed that 74% of patients who received olanzapine plus chemotherapy did not experience nausea or vomiting after the first day of treatment. In the placebo group, the number dropped to 45%.

Many of the participants who benefited from the treatment continued to be free of side effects for 5 days after chemotherapy.

“We’ve long known that nausea and vomiting that come along with chemotherapy are a major problem and affect the quality of life of our patients,” said researcher Steven Powell, MD. “The findings of this study, fortunately, provide physicians with a tool to better address the needs of those they are treating for cancer.”