Seroquel (quetiapine)

Seroquel (quetiapine) is an oral psychotropic medication used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as acute mania associated with bipolar I disorder. Although the mechanism of action of Seroquel is unknown, like other anti-psychotics, it inhibits communication between nerves in the brain.

Why Prescribed

Seroquel is prescribed for the treatment of depressive episodes in bipolar disorder, acute manic episodes in bipolar I disorder, and schizophrenia.

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FDA Approved Uses

Seroquel was approved by the FDA in 1997 for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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Side Effects

The most common side effects associated with Seroquel are dry mouth, drowsiness, sedation, dizziness, weakness, constipation and abdominal pain, sudden drop in blood pressure when standing, sore throat, weight gain, abnormal liver tests, upset stomach, and lethargy.

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Warnings and Alerts

In 2004, the FDA and Seroquel manufacturer AstraZeneca notified healthcare professionals of revisions to the 'Warnings' section of the labeling, describing the increased risk of hyperglycemia, high blood pressure and diabetes in patients taking Seroquel. Further, elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with this type of medicine are at an increased risk of death.

In addition, rare but potentially fatal disorders reported with Seroquel use include neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) and tardive dyskinesia (TD). NMS is a serious condition that can cause severe muscle rigidity and spikes in blood pressure and pulse, while TD causes spastic movements of the face, tongue, or other parts of the body. TD may become permanent, and the risk of TD is believed to increase as the amount of and length of time on these medications increase. Other dangerous side effects reported with Seroquel include excessive weight gain, juvenile diabetes, pancreatitis, and diabetic coma.

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Drug Contraindications

Seroquel is contraindicated in patients with a history of seizures, cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, dehydration, diabetes, hyperglycemia, pancreas problems, hypovolemia, Alzheimer's disease, hypothyroidism, pregnancy, and hepatic impairment.

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What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that usually strikes in late adolescence or early adulthood, and is characterized by disturbances of language and communication, thought disturbances that may involve distortion of reality, misperceptions, delusions and hallucinations, mood changes and withdrawn, regressive, or bizarre behavior lasting longer than six months. The causes of schizophrenia are not clear. The symptoms seem to indicate an imbalance in the actions of two brain chemicals: dopamine and serotonin. Scientists think that a malfunction of neurones in the brain areas that deal with emotions, memory and planning (the limbic system and frontal lobes) may be the cause.

What should I tell my doctor before he or she prescribes Seroquel?

Before using Seroquel, tell your doctor if you have or had heart problems, cataracts, a thyroid disorder, high cholesterol or triglycerides, seizures, diabetes or increased blood sugar, liver disease, are trying to become pregnant, are already pregnant, are breast-feeding, or drink alcohol.

Are there any interactions between Seroquel and other drugs or foods?

Certain other medications can interact with Seroquel, so your doctor may have to adjust your dose or watch you more closely if you take the following medications:

  • Blood pressure medicines
  • Levodopa and medicines called dopamine agonists
  • Phenytoin thioridazine antifungal or antibiotic medicines such as ketoconazole, itraconazole, fluconazole and erythromycin lorazepam

Why is diabetes and hyperglycemia a Seroquel side effect?

The relationship between Seroquel and hyperglycemia-related adverse events is not completely understood. Assessment of the relationship between atypical antipsychotic use and glucose abnormalities is complicated by the possibility of an increased background risk of diabetes mellitus in patients with schizophrenia and the increasing incidence of diabetes mellitus in the general population.

Can I bring a lawsuit if I have suffered injuries from taking Seroquel?

If you or a loved one has suffered serious side effects from using Seroquel, particularly diabetic complications and/or cardiovascular difficulties, you may be entitled to recover damages. Manufacturers of dangerous drugs can be held legally liable for their products and associated negligence. Contact a qualified defective drug litigation attorney today, who can evaluate your case and explain your legal options.

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