The Trauma Lines Blog

Association of Traumatic Stress Specialists

Dangers of Seroquel

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According to the Associated Press, doctors have increasingly prescribed the drug Seroquel to our veterans to battle the symptoms of PTSD.  The “potent anti-psychotic” drug — approved for treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression — has been widely prescribed to treat sleeping disruptions such as insomnia and nightmares:

Thousands of soldiers suffering from PTSD have received the same medication over the last nine years, helping to make Seroquel one of the Veteran Affairs Department’s top drug expenditures and the No. 5 best-selling drug in the nation.

The VA’s spending on Seroquel has increased more than 770 percent since 2001. In that same time frame, the number of patients covered by the VA increased just 34 percent.

Seroquel has been the VA’s second-biggest prescription drug expenditure since 2007, behind the blood-thinner Plavix. The agency spent $125.4 million last fiscal year on Seroquel, up from $14.4 million in 2001.

Spending on Seroquel by the Department of Defense, has increased nearly 700 percent since 2001, to $8.6 million last year, according to purchase records.

If the potential side effects of the drug — diabetes, weight gain, muscle spasms — aren’t bad enough, a new study revealed a far more devastating side effect: sudden heart failure:

Last year, researchers at Vanderbilt University published a study suggesting a new risk: sudden heart failure.

The study in the January 2009 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine found that there were three cardiac deaths per year for every 1,000 patients taking anti-psychotic drugs like Seroquel. Seroquel’s unique sedative effect sets it apart from others in its class as the top choice for treating insomnia and anxiety.

The VA defends that the drug is not used as a first or even second option to treat insomnia. AstraZeneca PLC, the drug’s manufacturer, is looking into the results of the study.

The instant relief Seroquel provided to some soldiers suffering from sleep disorders put it in high demand. It’s important to understand all the potential side effects of each prescription drug you’re taking, let alone the combined effects if you are being prescribed multiple medications.

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Written by traumalines

August 30, 2010 at 9:56 pm

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