ziprasidone, Geodon

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GENERIC NAME: ziprasidone

BRAND NAME: Geodon

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Ziprasidone is an oral and injectable drug that is used for treating psychoses, for example, schizophrenia. Although the mechanism of action of ziprasidone is not known, like other anti-psychotics, it inhibits communication between nerves of the brain. It does this by blocking receptors on the nerves for several neurotransmitters, the chemicals that nerves use to communicate with each other. It is thought that the beneficial effect of ziprasidone is due to its blocking of dopamine and serotonin receptors. It also inhibits the re-uptake of serotonin and norepinephrine by nerves in the brain like some anti-depressant drugs. Ziprasidone is associated with little or no weight gain, a feature that distinguishes it from other anti-psychotic drugs. Similarly, ziprasidone is unique among anti-psychotic drugs in that it does not increase cholesterol levels. The FDA approved ziprasidone as a treatment for schizophrenia in February 2001.

PRESCRIPTION: yes

GENERIC AVAILABLE: no

PREPARATIONS: Ziprasidone is available as capsules of 20 mg (blue/white), 40 mg (blue/blue), 60 mg (white/white) and 80 mg (blue/white). The injectable form is available in vials containing 20 mg of lyophilized ziprasidone that must be reconstituted with 1.2 ml of sterile water before injection.

STORAGE: Capsules should be stored at room temperature, between 15 and 30 C (59 and 86 F).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Ziprasidone is used to treat severe mental disorders like schizophrenia, which are characterized by distorted thoughts, perceptions, and emotions. Ziprasidone helps manage schizophrenia's "positive symptoms," (visual and auditory hallucinations, and delusions) and may also help in treating the "negative symptoms" of schizophrenia (social withdrawal, apathy, lack of motivation, and an inability to experience pleasure). Ziprasidone also is used to treat acute bipolar mania (manic and mixed episodes) and, in combination with lithium (Lithobid) or valproate (Depakote, Depakote ER, Depakene, Depacon, Stavzor), for maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder.

DOSING: Ziprasidone usually is taken twice a day. The usual starting dose is 20 mg twice daily. The dose may be increased over time to achieve the desired effect. Ziprasidone should be taken with food (for example, shortly after a meal) since when taken on an empty stomach, much less ziprasidone is absorbed.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Ziprasidone has a modest effect on the electrical activity of the heart which can be seen on the electrocardiogram (EKG) as a prolongation of the QT-interval. (See discussion below.) Other drugs which also affect the QT interval can add to the effects of ziprasidone and lead to serious disturbances in the rhythm of the heart. Due to the potential for such additive effects on the QT interval, ziprasidone should not be taken with thioridazine (Mellaril), quinidine (Quinidex), moxifloxacin (Avelox), pimozide (Orap), sotalol (Betapace), dofetilide (Tikosyn), and sparfloxacin (Zagam).

Carbamazepine (Tegretol) increases the body's ability to eliminate ziprasidone and, therefore, may reduce the levels and lessen the effectiveness of ziprasidone. Conversely, ketoconazole (Nizoral) reduces the body's ability to eliminate ziprasidone and may cause increases in levels of ziprasidone and more side effects. Ketoconazole does this by blocking the enzyme that eliminates ziprasidone, cytochrome P450 3A4. Other drugs that also block this enzyme and may increase the levels of ziprasidone include itraconazole (Sporanox), fluconazole (Diflucan), erythromycin, clarithromycin (Biaxin), nefazodone (Serzone), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), and diltiazem (Cardizem, Tiazac, Dilacor).




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