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New Drug Treats Bipolar Disorder

Combats bouts of severe depression

TUESDAY, Dec. 30, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the Eli Lilly medication Symbyax to treat depression associated with bipolar disorder, sometimes referred to as manic depression.

The new drug is a combination of active ingredients found in two other drugs used to treat mental health problems -- the anti-depressant Prozac and the anti-psychotic Zyprexa, the company says.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by debilitating mood swings between deep depression and episodes of abnormal manic euphoria. People with the disorder typically spend more than three times longer in the depressive phase, in which an average of one in four patients attempts suicide at least once, the company says.

People with diabetic conditions and elderly patients with dementia should be carefully monitored while taking Symbyax, Eli Lilly says. Common side effects include drowsiness, weight gain, feeling weak, swelling, tremor, sore throat and difficulty concentrating.

More than 2.5 million Americans have bipolar disorder, but recent research indicates the number may be as high as 10 million, the company says. The World Health Organization estimates it's the sixth leading cause of disability worldwide.

Here is the Eli Lilly press release announcing the approval. For more on bipolar disorder, visit the National Library of Medicine.

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