Seroquel, or quetapine, is a drug used to treat nervous, mental, or emotional conditions such as schitzophrenia or bipolar disorder. It can be used alone or with other medicines. However, it should not be used to treat behavioral problems in older patients who suffer from Alzhemier’s disease or dementia. Extended release tablets may also be used to treat major depressive disorder in adults.
Side effects of Seroquel can include mood or behavior changes, constipation, drowsiness, headache, and trouble sleeping. Older adults with dementia may have a slightly increased chance of death. More serious side effects may include stiff muscles, high fever, tremors, or blurred vision. It may also infrequently make blood sugar level rise, causing or worsening diabetes, or significant weight gain and a rise in blood cholesterol levels.
Because dementia patients are at an increased risk of death when using Seroquel, a number of lawsuits have been filed claiming that it causes cardiovascular disease, pneumonia, and other negative side effects. In April of 2010, a lawsuit was settled by AstraZeneca for $520 million for illegally marking Seroquel for off-label uses while failing to mention its side effects. Seroquel also requires a black box warning issued by the FDA. This warning states that the drug may cause deadly strokes in the elderly, and behavioral side effects such as suicide in adolescents and young adults.