Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Military's prescription drug policy criticized - especially for Seroquel

In the first part of an ongoing investigative series, news site Nextgov reports that the U.S. military's prescription drug policies puts its soldiers and its veterans at risk.

"A June 2010 internal report from the Defense Department's Pharmacoeconomic Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio showed that 213,972, or 20 percent of the 1.1 million active-duty troops surveyed, were taking some form of psychotropic drug: antidepressants, antipsychotics, sedative hypnotics, or other controlled substances."

Many of these soldiers and veterans are on multiple anti-psychotics, which one doctor said is not necessary.

Most of the criticism comes down on the use of the anti-psychotic Seroquel, which the military allows to be prescribed as a sleep aid -- which is not one of the uses the FDA has approved for the drug.

"Smith said he was "flabbergasted" that military doctors prescribed Seroquel as a sleep aid, as the Food and Drug Administration has not approved such a use and other drugs are more effective. Breggin agreed, calling Seroquel "very dangerous, expensive and not proven to be more beneficial than other drugs."

Jackson noted Seroquel has the addictive potential of opioids, such heroin."

Nextgov also spoke to Stan White, whose son Andrew suffered from PTSD and was prescribed multiple medications, but barely had access to talk therapy:

"White said Andrew was so befuddled by his drug cocktail, which included Klonopin, a benzodiazepine, and hydrocodone, an opiate, that his wife, Shirley, had to dole them out forAndrew. White said Seroquel did not diminish Andrew's nightmares at even such a high dosage.

While talk therapy is widely viewed as one of the most effective treatments for some mental health problems, including PTSD, White said Andrew had only a few such sessions, primarily with a local veterans' peer therapy group. It was not until the week Andrew died that a VA psychiatrist decided to begin intensive sessions with him."

You can (and should) read Nextgov's entire report here:

Military's drug policy threatens troops' health, doctors say

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