In 2001, the drug received FDA approval as a treatment for schizophrenia. It's a member of the class of drugs known as atypical antipsychotics.
Other drugs of this class -- notably Zyprexa and Risperdal -- are often used to help control the manic phases of bipolar disorder. Many patients taking these drugs have unwanted weight gain. Geodon does not appear to affect patients' weight, according to bipolar disorder treatment expert Paul E. Keck, MD, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at the University of Cincinnati.
"Many bipolar medications cause substantial weight gain, making it challenging to treat patients for this serious and often disabling condition," Keck says in a Pfizer news release. "Managing the symptoms of this disorder is the primary objective of treatment. Finding an agent that is acceptable to patients is also a key element to successful treatment. Geodon has now been proven to rapidly control the symptoms of acute mania and has not been associated with significant weight gain."
Geodon does have side effects, however. The one of most concern is increased risk of abnormal heart rhythm. People with a specific heart-rhythm problem called long QT syndrome, people who've had a recent heart attack, and people with severe heart failure should not take Geodon.
Bipolar disorder is also known as manic-depressive illness. It's characterized by profound mood swings between periods of depression and periods of mania. During manic episodes, a person may feel very irritable, or may feel excessively happy and bursting with energy.
The initial treatment for bipolar disorder is lithium, which reduces the high risk of suicide associated with this lifelong psychiatric illness. However, psychiatrists usually use atypical antipsychotics for control of manic episodes in patients with bipolar disorder.
Geodon maker Pfizer Inc., is a WebMD sponsor.