Department of defense cracks down on off-label use of Seroquel

These drugs are widely used in this manner in all of psychiatry. Not just in the military.

From the Army Times:

A letter landed in Stan White’s mailbox in Cross Lanes, W.Va., in April.

It began: “On behalf of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces … I extend my sincerest and deepest sympathy for the loss of your sons.”

But the note wasn’t simply a condolence. The message from Air Force Lt. Gen. Brooks Bash informed White that U.S. Central Command had decided in March to remove the powerful antipsychotic drug Seroquel from its approved formulary list.

Under the new rules, CENTCOM doctors now must request a waiver if they write a prescription for Seroquel, also known as quetiapine.

The change is a small victory for White, who had already lost one son to combat and has sought restrictions on the drug he believes contributed to the death of a younger son.

Marine Cpl. Andrew White died Feb. 12, 2008, at age 23 from a lethal combination of medications prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder, mainly clonazepam, quetiapine and paroxetine — the latter two known to sometimes affect the heart’s regular rhythm….


Quetiapine has the strongest somnolent effect of all atypical antipsychotics, and is commonly prescribed troops for relieving nightmares.

But as its popularity has grown, evidence has mounted pointing to links between atypical antipsychotics and irregular heartbeat and even death — prompting critics and physicians, including Woodson, to sound the alarm on frequent prescriptions.

“Providers should use caution when these agents are used as sleep aids in service members struggling with substance use disorders, especially given the risk of such side effects as glucose dysregulation and cardiac effects,” Woodson wrote Feb. 22. (read the rest)

These drugs are widely misused in the entire population, not just the military. Perhaps this lesson will be heeded by a few outside of the military too.

I wrote about this story as it was taking place a couple of years ago: Deadly cocktail being given to soldiers: Paxil, Seroquel, Klonopin — all drugs I was on, it’s routine in psychiatry

Let us hope this deadly tragedy at the very least will save others from the same fate. Many other drugs shouldn’t be being used either and in fact the Army recently warned about the whole cocktail this young man was on when he died:  Army warns against benzos and antipsychotics in PTSD: they can “intensify symptoms and lead to addiction”

Comments are closed.

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: