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Monday, August 30, 2010

Seroquel Tied to Dangerous Off-Label Side Effects for Vets

Thousands of soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq and suffering from PTSD have been given Seroquel, a powerful anti-psychotic. However, several of these vets have died while taking Seroquel, leading to questions from the families about the drug's risks. It is the nation's fifth best selling drug and the families claim the government is not being upfront about the dangers. They are asking for Congress to investigate.

Because many of the vets return unable to sleep, are constantly restless, and suffer from nightmares, they are prescribed a regimen of drugs, including Seroquel. One solder whose nightmares did not cease was given an increasingly large dose, until he was taking more than 1600 milligrams a day. This is more than double the maximum dosage recommended for schizophrenics. The soldier died in his sleep after taking the medication. Investigators at the Veterans Affairs Department ruled that he died of a rare drug interaction because he was also taking an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication.

However, using Seroquel as a sleep aid has not been approved by the FDA. It is only approved to treat schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. Still, it is commonly used by psychiatrists for off-label conditions, like insomnia.

Seroquel's side effects are well-known and extremely dangerous. They include:

  • Diabetes
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle spasms
  • Sudden heart failure

According to a study that appeared in the January 2009 edition of New England Journal of Medicine, there were three cardiac deaths per year for every 1000 patients taking anti-psychotics like Seroquel.

AstraZeneca PLC, maker of the drug, is reviewing the study. They are also facing thousands of lawsuits tied to Seroquel's dangerous side effects.

If you or a loved one has suffered side effects from Seroquel, please contact the experienced pharmaceutical liability attorneys at the Cochran Firm for an initial consultation. We serve clients nationwide.

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posted by Benjamin A. Irwin at 8:20 AM

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