Our daughter suffers from schizophrenia. This illness has devastated her and us. None of the many medications she's been on seem to have helped at all. Her psychiatrist just put her on a drug called Seroquel. Can you tell us anything about this new drug?
(Column: Ask the Pharmacist)
Steve Kaufman, RPH
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Schizophrenia is a devastating mental illness that causes serve functional impairment in patients and places enormous demands on them, their families, and the health care system. Standard antipsychotic medications for schizophrenia have been on the market since the 1950's and were fairly effective. The problem was these medications also frequently caused patients to develop disabling motor or other neurological side effects (extrapyramidal symptoms).

In the treatment of patients with schizophrenia, selecting the most appropriate, effective and tolerable medication is the key to success. Remember just because a medication works on one patient we can not assume we will get the same results on the next patient. Each patients medication must be individualized. In the past doctors have accepted the shortcomings associated with standard treatments (partial response and side effects). Now new agents are changing the expectation of drug therapy.

Seroquel is one of the several new medications developed for the treatment of schizophrenia (Risperdal and Zyprexa are the others). In clinical trials, it has showed to be effective in treating both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The most common side effects are headache, drowsiness, dizziness, and dry mouth. Remember most patients have none of these side effects and those that do may have them only in the early weeks of treatment.

Seroquel is available in 25 mg, 100 mg, and 200 mg tablets and is usually given on a twice a day schedule. The starting dose range is usually 300-400 mg a day. However, this may be adjusted within the range of 150-750 mg a day, depending on the clinical response and tolerability of the patient. If dosage adjustments are needed, increases or decreases in the amounts of 25-50 mg twice a day are given. Seroquel may be taken with or without food. As with all medications to achieve the best response Seroquel should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor.
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