Olanzapine is Effective at Treating Chronic Nausea and Vomiting in Patients with Advanced Cancer

The drug olanzapine is effective at treating chronic nausea and vomiting, unrelated to chemotherapy, in patients with advanced cancer, according to a study published in JAMA Oncology.

In this double-line, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial, researchers assessed 30 outpatients (16 women, 14 men, mean age, 63) with advanced cancer who suffered from persistent nausea and vomiting without chemotherapy or radiotherapy for 14 prior days. All patients experienced chronic nausea for at least one week. The researchers administered 15 patients 5 mg of olanzapine, orally, for 7 days, while a second arm, also comprised of 15 patients, received a placebo over the same time duration. The primary end point was defined as the change in nausea numeric rating scores from baseline to the last treatment day. Baseline median nausea scores, in all patients, were 9 out of 10 (range, 8-10).

According to the findings, following one day and one week, the median nausea scores in the placebo arm were 9 out of 10 (range, 8-10) on both days, juxtaposed with the olanzapine arm scores of 2 out of 10 (range, 2-3) after day one and 1 out of 10 (range, 0-3) after one week. Moreover, following one week of treatment, the researchers observed that the reduction in nausea scores in the olanzapine arm was 8 points (95% CI, 7-8) higher than that of the placebo arm.  Furthermore, they observed that patients in the olanzapine arm reported less vomiting, less use of other antiemetic drugs, better appetite, less sedation, less fatigue, and better well-being.


“Olanzapine, at 5 mg/d, appeared to be effective in controlling nausea and emesis and in improving other symptoms and quality-of-life parameters in the study population,” the authors wrote in conclusion.