Antipsychotic Drug Quetiapine May Cause Altered Heartbeat

In July 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested revision to the product label for the antipsychotic drug quetiapine (SEROQUEL and SEROQUEL XL) to warn against use with certain classes of drugs known to cause an arrhythmia, or altering of the heartbeat.

Quetiapine is widely used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  This class of atypical antipsychotic drugs listed in the revised label that may have a risk of bad interaction with quetiapine include antiarrhythmics, antibiotics, anti-infectives, antipsychotics and opioids.

Arrhythmia is a concern because it can cause the heart to stop suddenly, a medical emergency known as cardiac arrest.  The link between cardiac arrest and quetiapine use with these drug families must now be added to the substantial list of possible adverse effects of quetiaprine that should be considered before using this drug.

Such effects are:  increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia, as well as increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults taking antidepressants for major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders.  In fact, the dangers of this drug have led to two different black box warnings,  (the highest warnings the FDA can give a drug before taking it off the market).

On top of these risks, taking quetiapine may cause high blood sugar, high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increased weight, tardive dyskinesia, decreased blood pressure, low white blood cell count, and even cataracts. All in all, quetiapine has done a good job accumulating a laundry list of side effects and adverse effects, right?

Well, it gets worse! Quetipaine manufacturer, AstraZeneca, has made so much money because of their illegal marketing of the drug.  In fact, in 2010 alone, more than 12 million prescriptions were ordered, resulting in upwards of $4 billion in sales!  AstraZeneca has been withholding negative clinical trials and downplaying the potential adverse effects of the drug, which in March 2011 led to a $68.5 million settlement among 36 different states including the District of Columbia.

You should not discontinue the use of any antidepressant drugs (including Quetipaine’s) before consulting with your physician. If you have any questions, feel free to stop by our website, or contact one of our attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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