Perhaps one of the most commonly prescribed schizophrenia drugs in the United States is Seroquel, which is manufactured by AstraZeneca. Seroquel was primarily created to treat serious symptoms of schizophrenia, including paranoia and delusions. Though Seroquel was designed to treat schizophrenia, it is used far more often for off-label purposes.
Off-Label Uses for Seroquel
Many doctors prescribe medications for off-label uses, and Seroquel is no exception. It’s often used to treat conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and agitation associated with dementia. Experts note that many Seroquel prescriptions are written by doctors with minimal psychiatric training and little understanding of how the side effects of this medication can impact a patient’s quality of life.
A surprising number of adverse events are associated with the use of Seroquel. The FDA uses the Adverse Event Reporting System to track side effects, including skin reactions, development of new diseases, sleep abnormalities, breathing difficulties, allergic reactions, and other adverse events. By analyzing these reports over a number of years, consumers and researchers can look for clear patterns.
In the case of Seroquel, an obvious pattern does emerge. Between 2013 and the first quarter of 2017, there were roughly 20,000 cases in which Seroquel was listed as a primary or secondary suspect. Over 90% of these adverse effects occurred as the result of off-label use. Some psychiatrists note that the extreme side effects of Seroquel may be worth it to a patient dealing with a severe case of schizophrenia, while being more harmful than beneficial to patients with minor cases of insomnia or anxiety.
Did AstraZeneca Act Unethically?
As reports of adverse events mounted against AstraZeneca, the company started to come under fire. In 2010, the company was ordered to pay $520 million after a court found that it illegally marketed Seroquel for off-label uses that were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, which is illegal. On top of illegal marketing allegations, it was discovered that AstraZeneca made illegal payments to doctors.
AstraZeneca’s problems did not end in 2010. In 2014, the Texas Attorney General filed a case against the drug manufacturer. Again, the company maintained that it followed all applicable laws.
Despite the issues that AstraZeneca has had with Seroquel, the drug is still widely prescribed for sleep issues, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Patients report a wide range of serious side effects, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, memory loss, twitching, fatigue, shortness of breath, and tardive dyskinesia. It can be extremely difficult to wean off of the medication, providing additional challenges to those suffering from severe side effects.
Protecting Consumers Against Severe Side Effects
Medication can improve your health and make life easier, but it can also have serious consequences if used or prescribed improperly. You should always weigh your options while trying new prescription medications and ask their doctors plenty of questions. If a doctor recommends an off-label use of a medication, it’s wise to look into the potential side effects and adverse events before making a final decision.
If you suffer serious side effects due to a medication, you should consult with an experienced drug attorney in Florida. Doctors and pharmaceutical companies do not always work in the best interests of their patients, and an attorney can help you collect the compensation you deserve.
Don’t Take on the Drug Companies Alone
It’s difficult to go up against the giants of the pharmaceutical industry, but it’s a little easier when you have the right drug attorney on your side. If you’ve suffered an adverse event after using a medication, call Dennis A. Lopez & Associates at (813) 502-1836.