Popular Schizophrenia Drug Possibly Linked to Diabetes

Popular Schizophrenia Drug Possibly Linked to Diabetes: Diabetes and depression seem to go hand in hand. There have always been questions about whether it is depression that precedes diabetes or if the opposite may be true. In the case of one drug prescribed for psychosis the potential answer may be troubling.

The Washington Post reported last week that the drug Seroquel, used in the treatment of schizophrenia, might have been a substantial contributor to diabetes among many patients using the drug.

In what may be viewed in coming years as the infamous “Study 15” researchers discovered that individuals who took the drug gained an average of 11 pounds annually. Drug maker AstraZeneca International only shared these original findings with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA, in turn, only evaluated the effectiveness of the drug in treating schizophrenia – not the potential side effects the drug might cause.

Critics now indicate that Seroquel may not be substantially better at treating schizophrenia than a less expensive and older counterpart known as Haldol. This older prescription caused involuntary muscle movements. The newer Seroquel seemed to affect the body on a metabolic level.


What has troubled many is that the reports that AstraZeneca have released indicate that patients who use their drug have actually lost weight. The FDA has asked the company to stop making misleading comments about the drug in their marketing pitches.

Study 15 was funded by taxpayers and has come to light more than 12 years after the original research was concluded. Reports indicate AstraZeneca has received more than $4 billion annually from the sale of Seroquel in recent years.

More than 9,000 legal cases have been filed against AstraZeneca related to these most recent findings. Doctors were not made aware of the findings of the research until recently, although it does appear that as many as 82% of Seroquel users stop using the drug within 18 months of original prescription.

Weight gain, hyperglycemia and diabetes have proven to be the basis for thousands of the lawsuits currently in the court system.

This information is especially disconcerting given the epidemic of diabetes cases in the US. Diabetes has been linked with both depression and weight gain. The side effects of Seroquel may have been diminished in the past, but these recent lawsuits combined with the findings in the original Study 15 report are providing many patients with ample reason to investigate other viable alternatives.

The Washington Post article (A Silenced Drug Study Causes an Uproar) indicated, “Eight years after Study 15 was buried, an expensive taxpayer-funded study pitted Seroquel and other new drugs against another older antipsychotic drug. The study found that most patients getting the new and supposedly safer drugs stopped taking them because of intolerable side effects. The study also found that the new drugs had few advantages. As with older drugs, the new medications had very high discontinuation rates. The results caused consternation among doctors, who had been kept in the dark about trials such as Study 15.”

A Kaiser Family Foundation reports suggests, “Internal documents show that in 1999 John Tumas, the head of the AstraZeneca team tasked with getting articles published, defended “cherry picking” data.” This research seems to disregard the potential contribution of the drug to the development of Type 2 diabetes while highlighting a suspect report that actually indicated a weight loss – a report that did not have the backing of previous research findings on Seroquel.

If you are using Seroquel and have concerns you should visit with your health care provider about all options that may be available.