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Olanzapine Helps Resolve Delusional Parasitosis

Newly approved atypical antipsychotic agent has fewer adverse effects than traditional treatments

TUESDAY, March 21 (HealthDay News) -- The atypical antipsychotic agent olanzapine may be preferable to more traditional treatments for delusional parasitosis, a rare disorder in which patients falsely believe they are infested with parasites, according to research in the March issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

William J. Meehan, M.D., Ph.D., of the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Pennsylvania, and colleagues describe three cases in which patients with delusional parasitosis were successfully treated with 5 milligrams per day of olanzapine.

In one case, a chemical engineer in his 50s with a five-month history of rash had removed skin samples with a razor blade and examined them under a microscope for evidence of mold. In another case, a 56-year-old woman attributed nodules at her neck to "bugs" that turned out to be dried peas. And in the third, a 54-year-old man was convinced that "insurance auditors" were injecting him with larva. Olanzapine, in addition to other treatments, helped resolve the symptoms. Known side effects of the drug, such as sedation and hyperlipidemia, were uncommon.

"Olanzapine has a more benign adverse effect profile than typical antipsychotic agents, and eliminates the need for electrocardiographic monitoring," the authors write. The drug "can be used as a first-line agent in delusional parasitosis as a safer therapeutic option without a specialized monitoring regimen," they conclude.

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