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Decoding Drug Information - Seroquel Adverse Reactions - Final

August 16, 2010 Natasha Tracy

Last week I talked about Seroquel indications and dosage as well as the warnings and precautions for Seroquel.

Today I complete discussion of the prescribing information on Seroquel and suggest why you need to know this stuff anyway.

What Are Placebos?

No one knows why, but for some reason some people will react to an inert substance (a sugar pill that does nothing – a placebo) like it’s a drug. They experience “side-effects” or “get better” just like they would on a drug. This is important because when drugs report side-effects you have to compare them to the placebo number. So, if 10% of people taking the placebo got headaches, and 11% of people taking the drug got headaches that 1% difference makes the side effect much less relevant than if there were a 10% difference.

Adverse Reactions

This section outlays how likely adverse reactions (side-effects) are. Here are some of the interesting bits:

  1. Discontinuation due to adverse reactions (people that stopped taking the drug because of side-effects) – between 4% - 19%, compared to 3% - 5.7% for placebo. That’s up to 1 in 5. That’s a lot.
  2. Adverse reactions occurring in 1% or more – these are the side-effects you are most likely to get. There are lots and lots of things listed here. Take a browse if you like. Some may matter to you more than others.
  3. A note on weight gain: these are huge numbers. Consider this:
  • In 3-6 weeks 23% of schizophrenics gained 7% of their body weight or more (6% placebo)
  • In a person of 200 lbs that's 14 lbs + during as little as three weeks! That’s more than 200 lbs in one year. (That is an absolutely worst case scenario and assumes the weight gain continues at the same rate, which it may not.) The point is, these trials are over weeks and you’re likely to be on this medication for years. You have to extrapolate the data over time. (If you or your doctor are not keeping track of your weight on these drugs you’re loony.)

face_close_upDrug Interactions, Use in Specific Populations

Good to know if you’re in specific populations. Mostly something for your doctor.

Drug Abuse and Dependence

From what we know this class of drugs is non-addictive but this hasn’t been proven in humans. (But seriously, if you’ve been on them you’ll know how crazy it is to want to stay on them.)

Overdosage

Don’t try to kill yourself with an antipsychotic, k? If someone does overdose, take them to an ER. Simple.

Description, Clinical Pharmacology

Useful for scholars, doctors and pharmacists. The only thing you might want to know is if there are differences in age, gender, race and smoking of patients.

Nonclinical Toxicology

These are all animal tests for the things they can’t test on humans like cancer and impaired fertility. It's always hard to say whether this translates to humans and only long-term use of the drug will tell.

Clinical Studies

This tells you just how effective the drug is based on research. I believe this is only the data submitted to the FDA, and not subsequent study. If you really want to know how the drug does with your particular condition you have to search for more recent research. It’s generally easier just to talk to your doctor about why he thinks this drug is right for you.

How Supplied

Handy to know either for getting on or off the drug.

That's it. That's the prescribing information for a drug. It's a lot.

Why Do I Need to Know About Seroquel Prescribing Information?

If you’re going to take a medication for years, you should have some idea of what you’re getting yourself into, and you should know what tests should be run during treatment because I’ve very sorry to say, doctors often don’t order them. And doctors don’t have time to discuss all this with you in an appointment. Sorry, they just don’t. If you look at the information and bring them questions, then you’re both happy.

woman_w_chalkboardDo I really have to do this much research?

That’s up to you. I’m not going to make you, but I’ve been bitten more than once for not knowing it. Some drugs are worse than others for nasty side-effects but you won’t know that until you get some experience under your belt. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Anything can be a side-effect. You might get something common, you might get something rare, you might even get something that isn’t on the list, or you might get nothing at all. You won’t know until you take the drug.
  2. Actual drug information sheets like this one are available online on different sites and you can find one for pretty much any drug. This is your best source of information on the drug as it’s backed up with scientific data.
  3. In my experience, the likelihood of experiencing side-effects is much greater than the numbers suggest. The good thing about numbers though is that they do give you a basic idea of likelihood.
  4. People on the internet are just people on the internet. Don't base your decisions on random people posting on bulletin boards. You don’t know who these people are and don't know their agendas. I get offers for payment to insert marketing into my content. (And I mean right into my content. You might not even recognize it as advertising.) I don’t do it, but some people do. Use real data from reputable sources to make decisions.
  5. Ask questions. I know the words are big and scary so ask your doctor. He can translate and has real-world experience to go with it.

And remember, this isn't about fear, it's about education.

[I should remind you that I am not a health care professional and anything concerning to you should be discussed with your doctor.]

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2010, August 16). Decoding Drug Information - Seroquel Adverse Reactions - Final, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, July 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/08/decoding-drug-information-seroquel-adverse-reactions-final



Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleTwitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Ann Elizabeth
May, 30 2017 at 1:48 pm

5 years ago I had my third child, my pregnancy was very hard other than the gestational diabetes I had very bad depression insomnia and anxiety and was trying to hide this as I thought people would think bad of me for being anything but happy while carrying another life inside me ( I know I thought bad of my self for it).................the most guilt I carried was the fact that I couldn't stop the thoughts of how much I wanted to die but couldn't because I loved that baby living inside me with my whole heart and how could I even think of this I could never do that to my older children either.
I refused all depression meds my babys brain was developing the last thing she needed was for me to be taking anything that does anything to your brain chemistry!! They really pushed the ambian saying it was betterfor the baby than me not sleeping I let them prescribed it but I wouldnt take it, after my sweet girl was born, and I fell in to the deep dark hole of post partum depression again hideing this because how can u be depressed when u just had your third perfect in every way child? She was about a month old and I couldn't nurse anymore I only waighed 98 lb So I began to let my dr put me on meds, at that point I didnt care what she put me on I just wanted to come out of the dark that had swallowed me, soon I was a complete zombie (i honestly could not even tell u all they had me on it was an outrageous amount of pills at very high doses) soon weighed more thatn I had during any of my pregnancies, could only stay awake if I stayed standing a few suicide attempts later and I put
my self in pine rest and told them get me off this shit! I need help!
It was hell my hair was falling out the withdrawal was like I was dieing.......now I am much better, im only ( compared to what I was on) on Prozac 80mg neurontin 300mg ambian 5mg klonopin 3mg and seroqel 200mg, I WANT OFF THIS SEROQUEL! So bad but I get sick as hell if I don't take it im down to only half a pill so 50 mg but its like im stuck here when I try to stop I totaly lose it, seems 25 mg is like not takeing it at all :(

Pierre
March, 8 2017 at 4:57 am

Let's set the background. After months of sleeping less and less due to increasing anxiety. Then, for 2 weeks, i was in a state of panic that was on 24/7 I barely got 2 hours sleep per night. , i was scared of everything. I did not smile or ctracked jokes any longer. I was a complete mess.
I saw my doctor. he first prescibed Lexapro, which is supposed to be the most easily tolerated SSRI. I got from a half-dose of 5 mg almost all the side effects in the book. And severe one. I was so hyper teh Energizer rabbit looked like a lethargic rabbitt in comparaison. It only made the insomnia worse . The doctor told me to take 6+ mg of melatonin at night. it did not help. I sweated so much at night my bed was on it's way to become a water bed. Sexual effects that usually take weeks to appear happened right away. I was constipated, badly . i had gases ( more than usual ) yawned a lot, ...
So, SSRI and SNRI are suddenly off the list. Benzos ans sleeping pills were already noy=t considered as i have balance trouble already.
I was beginning contemplating suicide to stop the pain.
It became IMPERATIVE that i should sleep . So, my doctor prescribe Seroquel, as an off-label drug. As it would also help a little bit for anxiety. I already knew about Seroquel. My girlfriend has been on it for 6 years. And was doing well. A friend of ours calls it a godsend. I also know of all the bad press, of all the side effects, of how difficult it is to get off that medication.
I NEEDED to sleep. I was less and less functional. The first night i took Serouel, i had the best sllep i have had for years, maybe in all my life. I used to turn and toss for an hour or so before getting to sleep for an hour, even as a child. Eith Seroquel, no more than 30 minute. For the last 20 years , at least, i wake up duing the night and i have a lot of trouble getting back to sleep. On Seroquel, i wake up during the night, go pee and then get to bed and get back to sleep right off. After 3 weeks , my level of anxiety is down ( i evaluate my anxiety on a scale from 1 to 10 3 times a day as the book Anxiety for Dummies suggested )
Before the medication, it varied from 8 to 10 every day. Now, it is from 3 to 8 , a very real improvement. I had begun meditating, but until Seroquel allowed me to sleep, it wasn't working.
So, yes, this is a dangerous drug. But an anxiety crisis that lasts for weeks, insomnia that is getting worse, that is also a very dangerous situation. I took Seroquel, knowing the risks. But what else could i do ? Say no, and risk killing myself ?

JohnT
January, 5 2017 at 4:54 am

I took Seraquel for a few days at the recommended doses. It worked, I slept very well. Too well. I was sleepy all day and for days. I took the 50 mg pills and broke them into four pieces. That worked and I wasn't as tired the next day. I could fall asleep easily on just 10 mg. I don't take it anymore because I don't have the same sleep problems that I had one year ago. If you are having sleep problems, seroquel does put you to sleep. For me, I didn't need near the 50 mg for it to work.

Katie
January, 1 2017 at 11:47 am

I have been taking seroquel for as long as I can remember and it has ruined a lot in my life. I have permanent pain and numbness. I can't take in enough oxygen anymore to exercise. I have permanent tendon and heart damage from it. With all of the damage it has done to me and my body, my doctor refuses to take me off of it. Some people may think that it is helping but it does nothing than cause damage to organs. You are stupid and need extreme help if you would ever consider putting someone you love on this debilitating drug.

Angela
October, 11 2016 at 3:05 pm

Seroquel has given me NORMAL which is mighty wonderful!

Robert
October, 3 2016 at 2:41 pm

I dont think seroquel is for me, I was already taking lexapro and it was working, but not as good as it use too, so I got online and found out that if you add seroquel to lexapro it can make lexapro work better. So I took seroquel and it made me feel extremely horrible. So I'm not going to take it again. It may work for someone else but not me.

Seroquel+++
March, 26 2016 at 6:42 pm

You're a nutcase and you probably overdosed to feel that way. Nothing is forcefully prescribed unless you truly need it. If the court orders it you need it. You are a CRAZY too so [moderated]. Tell your diary how you feel don't post false info on the net!!

Seroquel+++
March, 26 2016 at 6:40 pm

Natasha you are a complete uneducated idiot and have no idea what you're talking about. Why aren't your sources cited?? Or is all of this really coming out of your pea sized brain??!! Get a clue!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natasha Tracy
March, 29 2016 at 6:22 am

Actually, all my sources are cited via link.
- Natasha Tracy

E
February, 5 2016 at 9:51 pm

I don't usually comment on posts like this but I can't help myself this time. Seroquil has almost killed me multiple times. I've felt like my heart was going to stop many many nights after taking this drug which was forcefully prescribed by my doctor under the mental health act. I don't have a specific mental illness, just anxiety. Nobody listens when I tell them about my, I call them heart attacks. Sometimes I'll be laying in bed after taking my dose and just stop breathing. Luckily I convinced the doctor to taper me off from 300 by 25 mg every week. I'm at 75 now and I can't wait to be off of this crazy drug. So annoying!

Gabrielle
September, 28 2015 at 4:38 am

Hello Natasha,
I just found your website. Lucky me.
Sure I agree you may sound a bit "too harsh" here and there and your use of the term "crazy" is well...hahaha! But hey I'm crazy and that's it!
I'm bipolar 2, from France. I've been in the UK for 2 years and on seroquel since I got here. I don't really know why the GP put me on seroquel but I was too unwell to argue.
Over the last 2 years I put on 35 kilos!!!!! I'm currently a big size 16!!!!! My bone structure is fairly skinny so my back hurts, my knees hurt, they simply cannot "carry" that much weight!!!!!
I thought this was the UK, junk food etc. Started a diet a month ago. Ate very well, fish and veg and I was still putting on weight!!!! I'm on 300mg in the evening.
I wake up in the morning tired. Exhausted. I need naps.
I started researching seroquel last week when I realised finally that my weight is not linked to my diet (I don't really eat that much). I'm so glad to have found your website. I'm seeing a French specialist in 4 days and I want off that medication because it's simply slowly killing me.

Sara
August, 12 2015 at 9:16 pm

This website is only a normal persons opinion and I do find it perturbing "but seriously anyone's who's been on them will know it's crazy to want to stay on them"
Seriously?
Drugs effect everyone differently. I haven't tried any other anti physcotics, the first few weeks side effects are worse and they usually calm down: I became suicidal when I started and when increased but doesn't take away from the fact that they have helped tremendously with my agoraphobia anxiety bpd along with therapy of course.
My life is livable and I've no intention of stopping this med! So I'm clearly crazy!
Well it's the opposite for m
Love the massive pic of yourself mid article:

Isobel
July, 20 2015 at 3:21 am

Quietapine has ruined my life. I was on it for two months in an NHS hospital. When I came home I was unable to walk or drive. I have parkinsonism as a result of this dangerous drug.

Julie Mills
October, 6 2014 at 1:40 pm

I lost an entire month on Seroquel. Still shaking just thinking about my horrific experience...and to think I live alone, and went through so much. I am not bipolar or psychotic in any way. Seroquel given to me for anxiety. Unbelievable. v
Violent extremity "electrical shocks" and abrupt and violent extremity twitching. Was in my car for four hours lost...just sat there paralyzed with closed windows on a hot day. Remember "coming to" soaking wet and mentally did not have any cognitive ability to ask for help. After three weeks of use, lost all use of legs and arms trying to go to bed. My eyes are still black and blue. I live alone and crying now thinking all this will happen again. I am an intelligent person and stopped the Seroquel the day after I could not get up off the floor...the temporary loss of my limbs that put me in the ER twice in four days. It will take months to stop fearing an attack like that. I just have to keep telling myself "No Seroquel, no nightmarish days." I feel extremely traumatized. My psychiatrist, upon hearing my experience responded "Wow...you're really sensitive"...that's it? Seroquel put my life on the line. I am begging anyone who reads this comment to please be careful when your doctor takes out that little pad o paper, please.

Lindsay King
June, 7 2014 at 8:30 am

I realise this is an old post but I couldn't help commenting. Seroquel has saved my life! I really open by reading this uninformed drivel that people do not get put off taking it.

Chris
February, 18 2014 at 7:17 am

Great blog. Very informational. Down here in Tampa about 6 years ago a man went crazy and killed a women and her two small children. Even to the point of dismembering them. He was bi-polar and was on a combination of Seroquel and Depakote. Depakote in a small percentage of people can cause suicide and violence. This man had attempted suicide a month before this horible triple murder happened.It also came out that he was using crack cocaine. I often wonder about the side effects of these drugs. I know a women who was diagnosed with schizophrania (probaly spelled wrong) for 40 years. Because she had suffered a horrible abuse trauma as a child she was paranoid. So they put her on meds similiar to these and we found out that some of the side effects of what she was prescribed were paranoia and auditory hallunications(hearing voices) which are the classic signs of schizophrania. She stopped taking the meds and imagine that no more hearing voices and no more paranoia.

Mary
June, 25 2013 at 9:40 pm

You have an extremely patronising and judgemental tone which is unfortunate as I can see you are probably trying to do a good thing here but it has put me completely put me off reading any more of your drivel. It's a shame as you write it in an authoritative way which might be misinterpreted as fact by some people in search of factual advice.

steven
February, 26 2013 at 8:30 pm

jodi,
Good luck with seroquel. It was the first med that really seemed to help me with my bipolar mood swings. It was very strange. I did not feel like the 'normal' me, but it was a 'better' me.
The down side was that in spite of jogging 4 to 5 miles 3 times a week... I gained 10 pounds in the first 30 days. I started jogging 4 days a week. I gained another 8 pounds in the second month. That was a gain of over 10% of my starting weight. Being bipolar, I didn't need another trigger (body image) to set off a depressed mood state. The personal cost of weight gain was too much for me to accept taking seroquel. I had my doctor take me off seroquel and try a different med. It took me 3 months to lose the weight I had gained.

jodi
February, 26 2013 at 1:57 pm

they want me to start seroquel 50 mg first day and 100mg for two days and 150 mg for 2 days and then 200mg for now on is this safe or am i gonna od

Drew
January, 14 2013 at 7:56 pm

I think a major consideration in terms of side-effects (and likelihood/severity) is the age/shape of the person taking the medication. I am currently on 200mg Seroquel (as well as lithium and lamictal) and I experience almost no side-effects. My heart may race right before bed a bit, but I've lost 10 pounds since I've been on it (past 3 months with little diet/exercise change). I think the reason why I see little side-effects is because I'm a 19 year old in good shape. A 40 year old who is slightly overweight would have a dramatically different response and side-effect profile. All psych meds are a wagering system in balancing side-effects with benefits. For me personally it was a godsend, but for others it may only be moderately effective in which case the presence of side-effects holds higher concern. Also you may underestimate the amount of research people taking medication do. I make sure I know as much of the pharmacology as possible (i.e. Seroquel being a D2 receptor antagonist). But this might just be because I'm a biochem student who wants to go into pharmacology.

Lori
August, 26 2012 at 8:15 am

Hi Natasha,
My psychiatrist put me on this drug (Seroquel / Quetiapine) for the severe symptoms I experience from PTSD w/ Dissasociative Disorder. My levels, as I count them from 1 - 10...10 being the worst, had been running around 5 - 7 on average prior to taking this medication. I took it every night for just over a month and ended up having 3 major (10+) episodes, including one that had suicidal tendencies mixed in.
This is not usual for me. It had been several months since I'd had one 10+ episode and that was while being threatened and dealing with a crappy moving company not doing their jobs. Anyone might have a breakdown during something like that!
I have never been able to take anti-depressants due to severe side effects. I don't know if this drug has any of the same effects on the brain as the anti-depressants do, but it sure took me on a bad ride. I'm titrating myself down off of them. Couldn't get ahold of my Doc, he doesn't work on fridays and it was recommended I go to the ER if I had problems or questions.
I'm not so sure this drug should be given to people with severe anxiety when it can cause anxiety. I have no problem with my anti-anxiety meds...no side effects. In the future I will be much more cautious about the meds I'm given, studying the inserts and looking online for others that have taken them.

Psych Meds For Children: Finding Right Regimen Isn't Easy | Life with Bob
April, 17 2012 at 8:25 am

[...] work?When Children Start or Change Psychiatric Medications Over the next few weeks, we watched for medication side effects. Bob tolerated the new psych meds well. When school started, I held my breath.The change was [...]

Dr Musli Ferati
December, 12 2011 at 8:09 am

Against the bad-famed mentality on psychiatric medication, psycho-pharmacologic treatment remain the main approach on clinical psychiatric practice. This statement is derived from successful and satisfying management of mental disorder over 50 years, as long as is to set with current medication in clinical psychiatry. On the other side, the introduce of drugs in psychiatric treatment has to lighten many unknown reason on real nature of mental diseases. These and others benefits of drugs in the treatment and management of mental illnesses justify the usage of psycho-pharmacology, without any hesitation. The crucial question is the appropriate and professional dosage of psychotropic drugs in clinical psychiatric practice, that is nominated as "algorithm in psychiatric medication". That means to use these drugs in accordance with scientific and professional data and recommendation. Every deviation from this doctrine would be dangerous and even most harmful than oneself mental disorder.

Natalie Jeanne Champagne
December, 9 2011 at 2:18 pm

Hi, Natasha:
Coming from someone who is a recovered addict I have trouble with this comment: "There is an important distinction: people don’t mug people for money for Xanax but they certainly would for crack. "
With respect, this is completely inaccurate. People get addicted to all kinds of things and Xanax is benzodiazepine which a HUGE potential for addiction.
If you tell a drug addict hooked on downers that they would not commit a crime for a drug they feel they need, and do until a physical detox has taken place, they would argue.
Addiction is as simple as it is complicated and people do all kinds of things to obtain drugs unfortunately some of them are violent.
Sincerely,
Natalie

Natasha Tracy
December, 9 2011 at 7:08 am

Hi Danielsmommy,
You would have to direct me to specific articles before I could comment on them, but I do have two things to say.
1. Your doctor is your best reference for your concerns. Spell them out for the doctor and let them fill you in. Bring in the concerning article with you if you think that would help.
2. The last time I looked at this issue (which was about a year ago I think) I found that some antipsychotics like quetiapine (Seroquel) can elongate the QT interval of the heart rhythm. That's fancy speak for they can upset your heartbeat.
HOWEVER, it was not found that this increased the rate of cardiac events. While there was a _concern_ this might be the case, there was no scientific evidence of it at the time.
Please check this information with your doctor, however, as I am going from memory and new developments may have been found.
Please, please don't sit with your fears. Talk to a professional and truly assess the real risk. Being scared and alone isn't going to help you (or your heart) one bit.
- Natasha

Danielsmommy
December, 8 2011 at 8:25 am

I've been reading online about the dangers of sudden cardiac death with seroquel. Have you read anything about this? My doctor just started me back on seroquel...at my request because saphris wasn't working...and I read about this. It scares me to death but I don't know what else to do because the depression and irritability is horrible this time

Natasha Tracy
September, 27 2010 at 8:59 am

Hi Ken,
Well, I don't hear voices, so I guess I'm not crazy ;)
I agree, we don't need to take ourselves so seriously.
It's good that you've found something that's working for you. Good luck.
- Natasha

Ken
September, 26 2010 at 12:17 am

It doesn't bother me a bit when people use the word "crazy". Unless they are using it in a mean way. I have schizophrenia and YES I am CRAZY but so what? That's who i am now days. If you have an illness like this, you have to learn to laugh at things that happen to you. Don't take it so serious! My definition of crazy is, if you hear voices - you are crazy! Seroquel is the best antipsychotic i have found so far. Iv tried 6 different drugs. I found Seroquel by accident. The doc that was giving me free samples (i had no insurance) ran out of Zyprexa so i got Seroquel till the next visit. I decided to stick with it. It aint perfect but its OK.
Ken

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September, 24 2010 at 10:03 pm

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Natasha Tracy
September, 16 2010 at 12:57 pm

Hi MCM,
as you wish, but that isn't the actual definition of addiction. What you're describing is tolerance. There is an important distinction: people don't mug people for money for Xanax but they certaily would for crack.
- Natasha

MCM
September, 16 2010 at 8:15 am

When I wonder about drug a being addictive, I see it as more of a process where your body becomes dependent on it and craves more and if you were to try to lower your dosage or stop it you would have severe withdrawal symptoms that are worse than the original illness, like with Xanax. So not necessarily involving feeling good...

Natasha Tracy
August, 19 2010 at 10:05 am

Hi Thomas,
I can understand your abhorrence in the word crazy. I don't find it derogatory and wrote about it here: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2010/06/are-bipolars-crazy-i-am/
Regarding addiction; addiction requires that the person compulsively uses a substance that is psychologically or physically addictive and causes harm to themselves or others. Addiction happens, by definition, when something feels "good". (I'll skip the biochemical part.) Antipsychotics actually do exactly the opposite. They reduce the symptoms of certain illnesses but they do not, in fact, make you feel "good". (Again, I'll skip the biochemical part, but biochemically this is true.)
So, while antipsychotics like Seroquel save lives, it has nothing to do with making anyone feeling good, which is what I was referring to in the comment. It's similar to suggesting that insulin makes diabetics feel good. It doesn't. But it does effectively treat their illness.
Feeling good and treatment are two totally different things, and I was not bashing this or any other drug.
And I have yet to meet a person that "likes" taking an antipsychotic. The medication successfully treats some people, but it's far from enjoyable.
(And just because a drug is among the highest-grossing, it doesn't mean that's due to its efficacy. In the US it correlates quite highly to marketing.)
- Natasha

Thomas Smith
August, 19 2010 at 8:34 am

I disagree with your comment under "Drug Use and Abuse" when you state "...if you've been on them you'll know how crazy it is to want to stay on them." First of all, I abhor the word "crazy" in any way, shape or form. Secondly, this medication happens to be wonderful for many people. I know it has saved my son's life. It is one of the top selling medications for a reason. It works to save suffering and human lives. Don't bash a medication that has helped so many people. Yes, there are down sides to it. But, there are also many good things it does.

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