Blood Testing Essential for Seroquel Patients
In recent years in order to help the millions of people who suffer from mental illnesses, a variety of prescription drugs have been developed and put on the market. Seroquel (generic name quetiapine) is an antipsychotic medication manufactured by Astra Zeneca. Seroquel is prescribed for the management of symptoms of schizophrenia and manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder such as hallucinations, delusions or mental preoccupations beyond the control of a patient. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that affects approximately three to four percent of the adult population and it is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world.
Like many of the �super drugs� manufactured and marketed by pharmaceutical companies, the exact mechanism that enables Seroquel to work for schizophrenic patients is not known. Seroquel targets the specific areas of the brain that secrete the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These are both chemicals that regulate the nervous system�s response to environmental stimuli. Certain mental disorders may be caused by excessive levels of these neurotransmitters. Seroquel is said to have an �antagonistic� effect on certain dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain, allowing the chemicals to flow and function normally in the body.
Seroquel was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2004. Seroquel is also prescribed �off-label,� meaning it is prescribed for conditions beyond those originally approved by the FDA. Some of the other conditions that Seroquel is prescribed to treat include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), general anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Seroquel also has an antagonistic effect on the histamine receptor in the brain that produces a sedative effect. For this reason Seroquel is often prescribed for insomnia and other sleep disorders, especially those associated with depression and other mental illnesses.
Seroquel is a member of a category of medicines called “psychotropics�. Although Seroquel has been shown to be effective in the treatment of many symptoms of psychological disorders, there have been numerous reports of serious side effects in people who have taken this medication. Extensive pre-market clinical trials indicated that Seroquel could reduce many symptoms of mania and that some people who took Seroquel even experienced a “clinical remission” for a period of time.
However, there have been reports of elevated blood sugar and diabetes associated with the use of Seroquel and other drugs in its class. Individuals who have diabetes or possible risk factors such as obesity, or whose family has a history of diabetes, should speak with their doctor before taking Seroquel. Patients’ blood levels should be checked before taking Seroquel and throughout treatment. Symptoms of elevated blood sugar or diabetes, including excessive thirst, increased urination, overeating, or weakness, are indications of serious side effects. Complications from elevated blood sugar or diabetes can be life-threatening.
It is recommended that patients who currently take Seroquel may wish to contact their physician to consider alternative treatments. Any individual who believes they may have been harmed or suffered adverse heath effects from the usage of Seroquel should seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in pharmaceutical litigation.
Seroquel Side Effects Could Be Deadly
Seroquel, a psychotropic drug used to treat schizophrenic and bipolar patients, has recently come under fire for its dangerous side effects. There have been numerous reports of serious side effects in people who have taken this medication. There have been reports of elevated blood sugar and diabetes associated with the use of Seroquel and other drugs in its class. A reported rare, but serious, side effect with psychotropics, including Seroquel, is known as NMS, or neuroleptic malignant syndrome. NMS is characterized by muscle rigidity and fever.
Another serious side effect that has been reported is tardive dyskinesia (uncontrollable movements). Tardive dyskinesia is a neurological syndrome caused by the long-term use of neuroleptic drugs or psychotropics. Tardive dyskinesia is characterized by repetitive, involuntary, purposeless movements. Features of the disorder may include grimacing, tongue protrusion, lip smacking, puckering and pursing, and rapid eye blinking. Rapid movements of the arms, legs, and trunk may also occur. Involuntary movements of the fingers may appear as though the patient is playing an invisible guitar or piano. Tardive dyskinesia can be permanent, and is most common among older adults, especially women.
The most commonly observed side effects associated with the use of Seroquel are drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, weakness, abdominal pain, sudden drop in blood pressure when standing, sore throat, abnormal liver tests, vomiting, indigestion, headache, excessive weight, gain thinning of hair or nails and lack of energy.
Some of the side effects of Seroquel can be very serious, and patients experiencing any of the following symptoms should seek immediate medical attention:
• Uncontrollable shaking of the hands
• Changes in vision
• Painful erection of the penis that lasts for hours
• Very stiff muscles
• Excess sweating
• Fast or irregular heartbeat
• Unusual bleeding or bruising
• Yellowness of the skin or eyes
• Pain in the upper right part of the stomach
• Flu-like symptoms
Side effects of any medication cannot be anticipated. Muscle stiffness, confusion, irregular or rapid heartbeat, excessive sweating, and high fever are signs of a serious, and potentially fatal, reaction to Seroquel. People with a history of heart attack, heart disease, heart failure, circulation problems, or irregular heartbeat are particularly at risk and the use of Seroquel should be discussed at length with a doctor before taking the medication.
Seroquel poses a slight risk of seizures, especially if in individuals over 65, or who have epilepsy or Alzheimer’s disease. The drug can also suppress an underactive thyroid, and generally causes a minor increase in cholesterol levels. Other antipsychotic medications have been known to interfere with the body’s temperature-regulating mechanism, causing patients to overheat. Although this problem has not been reported with Seroquel, caution is still advisable.
Any individual who has suffered life-threatening side effects related to use of Seroquel may be entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering or loss and should contact an attorney who specializes in the pharmaceutical industry.