Seroquel Safety

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If you have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, your healthcare provider possibly prescribed the antipsychotic medication Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) to help you.

It’s important to know that this medication can cause a multitude of side effects and Seroquel can worsen certain medical conditions so be clear with your healthcare provider before ingesting, especially if you have diabetes, epilepsy, cataracts, or Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Latest concerns and controversy regarding Seroquel make one wonder why anyone would chance taking the drug or why any responsible health care provider would prescribe it. Sudden cardiac death, double risk of dying from heart problems, hyperglycemia, diabetes mellitus, tardive dyskinesia (a potentially permanent condition involving unusual and uncontrollable body or facial movements), priapism (a painful erection of the penis that does not go away)…to name a few of the most critical conditions associated with quetiapine fumarate.

Approved by the Food & Drug Administration in 1997 to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, atypical antipsychotics such as Seroquel were favored by many physicians because loss of motor control was a lesser side effect, a problematic concern with older “typical” antipsychotics. However, mounting research indicates that side effects of newer atypical antipsychotics, such as Zyprexa and Seroquel, nearly double the risk of dying from heart problems, deeming them no safer than older antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol.

Aside from the aforementioned alarming conditions, numerous other side effects are suspected and many confirmed: weight gain, high cholesterol, spiked fever, drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, suicidal thoughts, sweating, confusion, depression, panic attacks, raised blood sugar, constipation, severe allergic reactions, and on and on. Imagine any precarious side effect and it’s possibly linked to Seroquel.

An interaction with other medicines is always a dilemma since they can increase dangerous side effects or decrease the effectiveness of the drug. Pay particular attention to:
~Alpha-blockers or other high blood pressure medicines
~Azole antifungals, fluvoxamine, HIV protease inhibitors
~Barbiturates, corticosteroids such as prednisone
~Dopamine receptor agonists

The history of Seroquel would make a juicy mini-series. Aggressive marketing as a safer alternative for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder made it a readily identifiable drug of choice. But it has also been used for other conditions such as depression and dementia to add to its revenue. Thus, Seroquel along with Zyprexa, Risperdal, and Clozaril have become the sixth best-selling class of drugs in the world, garnering sales of over $20 billion. Seroquel netted a tidy $4.5 billion last year.

Add children and the elderly to the profitable mix. An editorial that appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested that using atypical antipsychotics to treat conditions other than schizophrenia and acute psychosis should be greatly reduced, and its use among children and elderly patients with dementia was questionable.

It was the same Journal issue that exposed the newer drugs as not safer alternatives to the older ones and linked an increased risk of sudden fatal heart attacks, which was almost double that of those not taking a antipsychotic.

Throw in accusations and lawsuits. Both Eli Lilly and Astra Zeneca have been accused of inappropriate marketing for Zyprexa and Seroquel for unapproved uses, which the FDA had not judged safe and effective. While Lilly has settled some of their lawsuits—in the billions—Astra Zeneca is currently facing the wrath of over 14,000 people filing claims over diabetes side effects of their atypical antipsychotic.

Also, included in the years leading to FDA approval are allegations of sexual misconduct among research staff..a key ingredient in any provocative mini-series.

Aside from the drama, the premier concern is the insidious handling of this drug and in many cases, horrific results. Thousands of serious complaints from both consumers and physicians from around the world should make one ponder whether the risk of a myriad of life threatening and possibly deadly consequences is worth it.

Seroquel deaths reported to the FDA by year:

2005—23
2006—141
2007—678
2008—120