Seroquel (quetiapine) is an antipsychotic drug approved for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. However, doctors, at the aggressive urging of AstraZeneca, have also been known to prescirbe this medication for off-label uses.
It was thought that Seroquel would be useful in the treatment of delusions and aggression in Alzheimer's patients. However, the potential benefits do not outweigh the risks that have been seen in these populations. When prescribed to elderly patients in these circumstances, Seroquel has been shown to lead to major complications and even sudden death.
Three-fourths of the 4.5 million Americans with Alzheimer's disease develop aggression, hallucinations, or delusions, which can lead them to lash out at caregivers or harm themselves. This behavior is the most common reason families put people with Alzheimer's in a nursing home.
Multiple recent drugs for schizophrenia were tested for effectiveness in treating these Alzheimer's symptoms, including: Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel. Doctors are free to prescribe them for any use. However, the drugs carry a strong warning that they increase the risk of death for elderly people with dementia-related psychotic symptoms, mainly because of heart problems and pneumonia , and that they are not approved for such patients.
However, at one point roughly one-quarter of nursing home patients were on these drugs, and at least that many patients at home have used them, mainly because there are no great alternatives and there was some evidence they might help.
AstraZeneca's off-label marketing of this Seroquel, particularly when it has been suggested to lead to such serious side effects, is not only unethical, but illegal.
If you or a loved one has been prescribed Seroquel and suffered serious side effects, contact us today to determine if you may have a personal injury claim.