Seroquel Weight-Gain Side Effects Suppressed by AstraZeneca

A former high-ranking AstraZeneca employee has admitted that the pharmaceutical company knew about the potential weight-gain side effects of Seroquel, but pressured medical staff to sign off on claims that the antipsychotic drug was weight neutral.

John Blenkinsopp, the company’s former U.K. medical advisor, told the BBC in an interview that AstraZeneca’s marketing wing pressured him to sign off on a claim that Seroquel was weight neutral, threatening his career when he refused.

The allegations come as AstraZeneca faces thousands of Seroquel lawsuits claiming that users developed diabetes and other injuries as a result of the drug makers failure to warn about the weight gain risks. The first Seroquel trial is currently expected to begin next month in New Jersey state court.

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Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) is an atypical-antipsychotic that is a top selling drug for AstraZeneca, generating nearly $5 billion a year in sales. Approved by the FDA in 1997 for the treatment of schizophrenia, it is also commonly used off-label for treatment of anxiety, obsessive dementia, compulsive disorders and autism. Seroquel has been used by more than 19 million people worldwide.

Blenkinsopp, who left the company in 2000, claims that he never signed off on Seroquel’s weight neutral claims; a decision that AstraZeneca marketing staff allegedly told Blenkinsopp would limit his career. As a result, while Seroquel consistently was advertised as being weight neutral in the U.S., only one ad in the U.K. made that claim.

“They came at me with a number of potential claims, all of which were trying to intimate that Seroquel was not associated with weight gain. None of which I would approve,” Blenkinsopp told the BBC. “The data pointed in the opposite direction.”

Blenkinsopp said he showed other AstraZeneca officials their own data, which showed that Seroquel caused weight gain, but even after seeing evidence to the contrary, they continued to push for him to agree that the drug was weight neutral.

According to internal AstraZeneca documents uncovered during the Seroquel litigation, a 2001 letter from a marketing official revealed that the drug maker had a global strategy aimed at suppressing the Seroquel weight gain side effects, casting the drug as weight-neutral years after clinical evidence demonstrated significant risks of weight gain among users, which could lead to diabetes and other serious health problems.

3 Comments

  • BillFebruary 5, 2010 at 6:37 am

    My with was on Seroquel for a few years and during that time she had nothing but problems. We didn't no what was causing all the problems back then but she was having to be in locked up in a mental word about every 6 months during her time on it. This word drive her crazy at times. She would take more Seroquel to try sleep not knowing it was causing her problems. Finally another doctor took her of[Show More]My with was on Seroquel for a few years and during that time she had nothing but problems. We didn't no what was causing all the problems back then but she was having to be in locked up in a mental word about every 6 months during her time on it. This word drive her crazy at times. She would take more Seroquel to try sleep not knowing it was causing her problems. Finally another doctor took her off of it. She was starting to have sleeping problems again so she tried the Seroquel to try to sleep and then we noticed all the problems it was causing. While my wife was on Seroquel she was in a car wreck. While she was sleeping her legs and arms were moving all over. One of the doctors thought she was having a small seizure. He wanted test done because of it. Then they put in her chart she was faking seizures because of what the Seroquel did to her. She is doing much better with her Bipolar without Seroquel.

  • RickJanuary 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    I started on Seroquel about a year ago 300MG and my dosage was increased to 600MG about four months ago. While I am very satisfied with the effect the drug has had on my Bipolar and Insomnia I must also add to the list displeasure with a 30 pound weight gain in four months.

  • EricJanuary 28, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    I began treatments with seroquil in 1997 for bi-polar disorder. Shortly after my treatments. I develope nausea and acute Pancrecites I was told that my nausea and pancrecites was caused by my Gallbladder. I had my Gallbladder removed six years ago and I continued with the Seroquil treatments. My pancrecites did'nt get better with the removal of my Gallbladder. I suffered with acute pancrecites, na[Show More]I began treatments with seroquil in 1997 for bi-polar disorder. Shortly after my treatments. I develope nausea and acute Pancrecites I was told that my nausea and pancrecites was caused by my Gallbladder. I had my Gallbladder removed six years ago and I continued with the Seroquil treatments. My pancrecites did'nt get better with the removal of my Gallbladder. I suffered with acute pancrecites, nausea and weight gain for ten years. I was taken off Seroquil alittle over two years ago. I havent suffered an attack of nausea or pancrecites for the past two years.

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