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Blood Testing Essential for Seroquel Patients

Mar 2, 2008
In recent years in order to help the millions of people who suffer from mental illnesses, a variety of prescription drugs have been developed and put on the market. Seroquel (generic name quetiapine) is an antipsychotic medication manufactured by Astra Zeneca. Seroquel is prescribed for the management of symptoms of schizophrenia and manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder such as hallucinations, delusions or mental preoccupations beyond the control of a patient. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that affects approximately three to four percent of the adult population and it is the sixth leading cause of disability in the world.

Like many of the "super drugs" manufactured and marketed by pharmaceutical companies, the exact mechanism that enables Seroquel to work for schizophrenic patients is not known. Seroquel targets the specific areas of the brain that secrete the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. These are both chemicals that regulate the nervous system's response to environmental stimuli. Certain mental disorders may be caused by excessive levels of these neurotransmitters. Seroquel is said to have an "antagonistic" effect on certain dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain, allowing the chemicals to flow and function normally in the body.

Seroquel was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2004. Seroquel is also prescribed "off-label," meaning it is prescribed for conditions beyond those originally approved by the FDA. Some of the other conditions that Seroquel is prescribed to treat include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), general anxiety disorders, sleep disorders and depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Seroquel also has an antagonistic effect on the histamine receptor in the brain that produces a sedative effect. For this reason Seroquel is often prescribed for insomnia and other sleep disorders, especially those associated with depression and other mental illnesses.

Seroquel is a member of a category of medicines called "psychotropics". Although Seroquel has been shown to be effective in the treatment of many symptoms of psychological disorders, there have been numerous reports of serious side effects in people who have taken this medication. Extensive pre-market clinical trials indicated that Seroquel could reduce many symptoms of mania and that some people who took Seroquel even experienced a "clinical remission" for a period of time.

However, there have been reports of elevated blood sugar and diabetes associated with the use of Seroquel and other drugs in its class. Individuals who have diabetes or possible risk factors such as obesity, or whose family has a history of diabetes, should speak with their doctor before taking Seroquel. Patients' blood levels should be checked before taking Seroquel and throughout treatment. Symptoms of elevated blood sugar or diabetes, including excessive thirst, increased urination, overeating, or weakness, are indications of serious side effects. Complications from elevated blood sugar or diabetes can be life-threatening.

It is recommended that patients who currently take Seroquel may wish to contact their physician to consider alternative treatments. Any individual who believes they may have been harmed or suffered adverse heath effects from the usage of Seroquel should seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in pharmaceutical litigation.
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