Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Frightening report on the ABC about dangers of anti-psychotic drug Seroquel

Concerns grow over top-selling drug's side effects. 7.30.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 27/11/2013
Reporter: Louise Milligan

"....doctors are warning the drug is being massively overprescribed and the potentially dangerous side-effects are being ignored."

This is a shocking and important report. Nice work Louise. 

The drug Quetiapine (brand name Seroquel) stands out among other anti-psychotic drugs for two reasons: the astronomical increase in the rate of prescription of this drug in the last ten years in Australia far outstrips the rates of prescription of other anti-psychotic drugs, and the measured rate of cases of serious harm to patients from side-effects of the drug also far outstrip those of other anti-psychotic drugs. As if that is crazy enough, consider the fact that that this drug is also prescribed for depression even though it comes with an increased risk of suicide compared to other anti-psychotic drugs. Something must be seriously wrong with medicine in Australia when increased potential for harm sit alongside spectacular prescriber popularity. 

Grave concerns about side effects are by no means the only reason why this drug has been hitting the headlines in the last few years. Readers of this blog might recall that the celebrity psychiatrist Prof. Patrick McGorry tried to trial this drug on patients thought to be at risk of developing psychosis in 2011 in a trial that was known as the NEURAPRO-Q study, but that study was closed down following objections from McGorry’s international peers. The drug has also been the subject of a deluge of litigation in the United States, which should surprise no one. So why does this drug continue to elicit such huge popularity with Australian doctors, and is even sought after by some as a drug of abuse? I think there’s no over-estimating the power of marketing and there’s no under-estimating the common sense of my fellow Australians.