Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Seven Year Itch: Seroquel used as a sleep aid in 2004, continues 7 yrs later

                                                       Photo credit Jeff Gentner  /  AP
Shirley and Stan White's son, Andrew White, died in his sleep on Feb. 12, 2008, while taking a Seroquel, a powerful antipsychotic prescribed as a sleep aid. Shirley White holds a box of her son's prescription medication is photo taken in the their son's bedroom in Cross Lanes, W. Va.

Antipsychotic Prescribed as Sleeping Pill by Matthew Herper, Forbes September 2004

"When AstraZeneca introduced the schizophrenia drug Seroquel in 1997, it was a dud. The London-based drug giant had no experience selling psychiatric drugs, and its then small sales force couldn't compete with the might of Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson, which ruled the market for antipsychotic medicines."


"Henry Nasrallah, a psychiatrist who is the associate dean of the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine, says he has prescribed Seroquel as a sleep aid for patients who also suffer from other mental disorders. "A lot of our patients beg us for sleep," says Nasrallah. "And if we are going to give them something for sleep, we want to give them a mild, not harmful, drug that seems to help both their sleep and their depression or anxiety."


Since the writing of Herper's 2004 article, Seroquel grew into a blockbuster antipsychotic that continues to be prescribed off-label for insomnia. The drug is connected to veterans dying in their sleep. Often prescribed to vets for insomnia and PTSD, the antipsychotic gained momentum the last 7 years, with increased sales and prescriptions.

The doctor quoted in the 2004 article above, psychiatrist Henry Nasrallah, is a doctor whose hand is heavily in the pharmaceutical paid speaker cookie jar. Nasrallah receives income from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson, which could be a conflict of interest, when speaking about Benedryl vs. Seroquel as he did back in 2004.

It's incredible this story can be written again today, 7 years later. Since then AstraZeneca was fined $520 million dollars for illegal marketing of Seroquel, entered a CIA (Corporate Integrity Agreement) with the Dept of Justice, and internal documents have been exposed detailing AstraZeneca insiders as knowing the antipsychotic had metabolic possibilities, with weight gain and diabetes.

Seroquel lawsuits totalled 26,000 and some remain to be heard in court while others have an unsettled case, where the plaintiffs are waiting for actual settlement numbers, and even information packets. Bloomberg reported cases settled in August 2010 and those plaintiffs have yet to see a dime of settlement money, though the general consensus is about $10,000 per person, for a lifetime body damage of diabetes.

The drug is in multiple trials in the XR version for a multitude of indications.

There are some people who tout atypicals as wonder drugs, and some might say they "work". For those who say that, I say listen to those who this drug in particular has injured. Those are the ones paving the way to AstraZeneca's Golden Wonder Drug blockbuster bank account, the drug that has become the multi-purpose antipsychotic and the one with dangerous side effects....yet where are the funtioning Schizophrenics or patients who suffer with psychosis? what are they saying about this drug's usefulness?

When does America stop tolerating paid pharma doctors and researchers? What will the next 7 years bring? how many more lawsuits or deaths?


  1. 59 Y,O man, been on seroquel 6 years, type 2 Di.
    I cant seem to get off this drug, every time I try to slowly decrease the amount, I start feeling sick
    and with headaches, and have to go to bed, and having the shakes, get back on the druge and I feel ok.

  2. I am on a very small dose of this drug, yet gained 30 pounds.
    My sugar is very high and I'm pre-diabetic thanks to Seroquel.
    I take 12.5 mg or less at bedtime by splitting the pill.
    Also on Paxil and Wellbutrin.
    I do sleep and feel great mentally but not physically!

  3. I took this drug for a year and gained 100 pounds and became diabetic and have been or 8 years after taking it. I never realized I could have sued for it! Also stay away from Ambien also. You maysleep well but you may also never wake up.


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