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About_Medications

Seroquel® (quetiapine)

Brand names:

Seroquel®

  • Tablets (immediate release): 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg

Seroquel XR®

  • Tablets (extended release): 50 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg

Generic name: quetiapine (kwe TYE a peen)

Medication class: Second generation antipsychotic (SGA), atypical antipsychotic

All FDA black box warnings are at the end of this fact sheet.  Please review before taking this medication.

What is Seroquel®/Seroquel XR® and what does it treat?

Quetiapine is a medication that works in the brain to treat schizophrenia. It is also known as a second generation antipsychotic (SGA) or atypical antipsychotic. Quetiapine rebalances dopamine and serotonin to improve thinking, mood, and behavior.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Hallucinations - imagined voices or images that seem real

  • Delusions - beliefs that are not true (e.g., other people are reading your thoughts)

  • Disorganized thinking or trouble organizing your thoughts and making sense

  • Little desire to be around other people

  • Trouble speaking clearly

  • Lack of motivation

Quetiapine may help some or all of these symptoms.

Quetiapine is also FDA approved for the following indications:

  • Acute treatment of manic episodes of bipolar disorder

  • Acute treatment of depressive episodes of bipolar disorder

  • Maintenance (long-term) treatment of bipolar disorder (when used alone or with lithium or valproate)

  • Adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder. This means quetiapine is used in addition to an antidepressant to help treat depression.

This medication sheet will focus primarily on schizophrenia. You can find more information about bipolar disorder and depression at http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=By_Illness.

What is the most important information I should know about Seroquel®/Seroquel XR®?

Schizophrenia requires long-term treatment. Do not stop taking quetiapine, even when you feel better.

Only your healthcare provider can determine the length of quetiapine treatment that is right for you.

Missing doses of quetiapine may increase your risk for a relapse in your symptoms.

Do not stop taking quetiapine or change your dose without talking to with your healthcare provider first.

For quetiapine to work properly, it should be taken everyday as ordered by your healthcare provider.

Are there specific concerns about Seroquel®/Seroquel XR® and pregnancy?

If you are planning on becoming pregnant, notify your healthcare provider to best manage your medications. People living with schizophrenia who wish to become pregnant face important decisions. This is a complex decision since untreated schizophrenia has risks to the fetus, as well as the mother. It is important to discuss the risks and benefits of treatment with your doctor and caregivers.

Caution is advised with breastfeeding since quetiapine does pass into breast milk.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Seroquel®/Seroquel XR®?

  • Symptoms of your condition that bother you the most

  • If you have thoughts of suicide or harming yourself

  • Medications you have taken in the past for your condition, whether they were effective or caused any adverse effects

  • If you ever had muscle stiffness, shaking, tardive dyskinesia, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, or weight gain caused by a medication

  • If you experience side effects from your medications, discuss them with your provider. Some side effects may pass with time, but others may require changes in the medication.

  • Any psychiatric or medical problems you have, such as heart rhythm problems, long QT syndrome, heart attacks, diabetes, high cholesterol, or seizures

  • If you have a family history of diabetes or heart disease

  • All other medications you are currently taking (including over the counter products, herbal and nutritional supplements) and any medication allergies you have

  • Other non-medication treatment you are receiving, such as talk therapy or substance abuse treatment. Your provider can explain how these different treatments work with the medication.

  • If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding

  • If you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs

How should I take Seroquel®/Seroquel XR®?

Quetiapine is usually taken 1, 2, or 3 times per day with or without food. The extended release should be taken without food or with a light meal (≤300 calories).

Typically patients begin at a low dose of medicine and the dose is increased slowly over several weeks.

The dose usually ranges from 100 mg to 800 mg. Only your healthcare provider can determine the correct dose for you.

The extended release tablets should be swallowed whole.  They should not be chewed, crushed, or broken.

Use a calendar, pillbox, alarm clock, or cell phone alert to help you remember to take your medication.  You may also ask a family member a friend to remind you or check in with you to be sure you are taking your medication.

What happens if I miss a dose of Seroquel®/Seroquel XR®?

If you miss a dose of quetiapine, take it as soon as you remember, unless it is closer to the time of your next dose. Discuss this with your healthcare provider. Do not double your next dose or take more than what is prescribed.

What should I avoid while taking Seroquel®/Seroquel XR®?

Avoid drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs while you are taking quetiapine. They may decrease the benefits (e.g. worsen your confusion) and increase adverse effects (e.g. sedation) of the medication.

What happens if I overdose with Seroquel®/Seroquel XR®?

If an overdose occurs call your doctor or 911. You may need urgent medical care. You may also contact the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

A specific treatment to reverse the effects of quetiapine does not exist.

What are possible side effects of Seroquel®/Seroquel XR®?

Common Side Effects

Low blood pressure, feeling dizzy, and/or increased heart rate, especially when standing up

Fatigue, sedation, dry mouth, agitation, increased appetite, constipation

Rare Side Effects

Quetiapine may increase the blood levels of a hormone called prolactin. Side effects of increased prolactin levels include females losing their period, production of breast milk and males losing their sex drive or possibly experiencing erectile problems. Long term (months or years) of elevated prolactin can lead to osteoporosis, or increased risk of bone fractures.

Serious Side Effects

Some people may develop muscle related side effects while taking quetiapine. The technical terms for these are “extrapyramidal effects” (EPS) and “tardive dyskinesia” (TD). Symptoms of EPS include restlessness, tremor, and stiffness. TD symptoms include slow or jerky movements that one cannot control, often starting in the mouth with tongue rolling or chewing movements.

Second generation antipsychotics (SGAs) increase the risk of weight gain, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. This is also known as metabolic syndrome. Your healthcare provider may ask you for a blood sample to check your cholesterol, blood sugar, and hemoglobin A1c (a measure of blood sugar over time) while you take this medication.

SGAs have been linked with higher risk of death, strokes, and transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) in elderly people with behavior problems due to dementia.

All antipsychotics have been associated with the risk of sudden cardiac death due to an arrhythmia (irregular heart beat). To minimize this risk, antipsychotic medications should be used in the smallest effective dose when the benefits outweigh the risks. Your doctor may order an EKG to monitor for irregular heart beat.

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome is a rare, life threatening adverse effect of antipsychotics which occurs in <1% of patients. Symptoms include confusion, fever, extreme muscle stiffness, and sweating. If any of these symptoms occur, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Are there any risks of taking Seroquel®/Seroquel XR® for long periods of time?

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a side effect that develops with prolonged use of antipsychotics. Medications such as quetiapine have been shown to have a lower risk of TD compared to older antipsychotics, such as Haldol® (haloperidol). If you develop symptoms of TD, such as grimacing, sucking, and smacking of lips, or other movements that you cannot control, contact your healthcare provider immediately. All patients taking either first or second generation antipsychotics should have an Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale (AIMS) completed regularly by their healthcare provider to monitor for TD.

Second generation antipsychotics (SGAs) increase the risk of diabetes, weight gain, high cholesterol, and high triglycerides. (See “Serious Side Effects” section for monitoring recommendations.)

What other medications may interact with Seroquel®/Seroquel XR®?

Quetiapine may block the effects of agents used to treat Parkinson’s disease such as levodopa/carbidopa (Sinemet®), bromocriptine, pramipexole (Mirapex®), ropinirole (Requip®), and others.

The following medications may increase the risk of heart problems when used with quetiapine:

  • Antipsychotics, including chlorpromazine (Thorazine®), thioridizine (Mellaril®), iloperidone (Fanapt®), asenapine (Saphris®), paliperidone (Invega®), ziprasidone (Geodon®)

  • Antiarrhymics (heart rhythm medications), including procainamide, quinidine, amiodarone (Cordarone®), dronedarone (Multaq®), sotalol (Betapace®)

The following medications may increase the levels and effects of quetiapine: erythromycin (Eryt-Tab®), fluconazole (Diflucan®), and fluvoxamine (Luvox®).

The following medications may decrease the levels and effects of quetiapine: carbamazepine (Tegretol®), phenytoin (Dilantin®), phenobarbital, and rifampin (Rifadin®).

How long does it take for Seroquel®/Seroquel XR® to work?

It is very important to tell your doctor how you feel things are going during the first few weeks after you start taking quetiapine. It will probably take several weeks to see big enough changes in your symptoms to decide if quetiapine is the right medication for you.

Antipsychotic treatment is generally needed lifelong for persons with schizophrenia. Your doctor can best discuss the duration of treatment you need based on your symptoms and illness.

  • Hallucinations, disorganized thinking, and delusions may improve in the first 1-2 weeks

  • Sometimes these symptoms do not completely go away

  • Motivation and desire to be around other people can take at least 1-2 weeks to improve

  • Symptoms continue to get better the longer you take quetiapine

  • It may take 2-3 months before you get the full benefit of quetiapine 

Provided by

College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists

(January 2013)

Summary of FDA Black Box Warnings

Increased Mortality in Elderly Patients with Dementia Related Psychosis

  • Both first generation (typical) and second generation (atypical) antipsychotics are associated with an increased risk of mortality in elderly patients when used for dementia related psychosis.

  • Although there were multiple causes of death in studies, most deaths appeared to be due to cardiovascular causes (e.g. sudden cardiac death) or infection (e.g. pneumonia).

  • Antipsychotics are not indicated for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis.

Suicidal Thoughts or Actions in Children and Adults

  • Depression and certain other psychiatric disorders are themselves associated with increases in the risk of suicide.

  • Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), both adult and pediatric, may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality) or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking medications. This risk may persist until significant remission occurs.

  • Patients, their families, and caregivers should be alert to the emergence of anxiety, restlessness, irritability, aggressiveness and insomnia. If these symptoms emerge, they should be reported to the patient’s prescriber or healthcare professional.

  • All patients being treated with this medication for depression should watch for and notify their healthcare provider for worsening symptoms, suicidality and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the first few months of treatment.



Related Resources

Partnership for Prescription Assistance
A new toll-free number and Web site provide help to those who lack prescription coverage or cannot afford their medications.

Living with Schizophrenia Community
Welcome to NAMI's Living with Schizophrenia community. Here you will find support, get targeted information and connect with people who understand.

Prescription Drug Patient Assistance Programs
Some pharmaceutical companies offer medication assistance programs to low-income individuals and families. This chart includes most psychotropic medications covered by such programs, as well as contact information for the pharmaceutical companies.


Online Discussion

Living with Schizophrenia
Find support, share knowledge, ask questions and meet people who've been there.


Related Links

Food and Drug Administration Consumer Information on Seroquel

Food and Drug Administration Label Insert for Seroquel

YourPharmacyBenefit.org
Information to help you make good use of the pharmacy benefits that are part of your health insurance.



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