Q. My grandmother was given Seroquel in the hospital to help her sleep. She has been on it for three months now and I have noticed symptoms such as slight head nodding and mouth movements like chewing or sucking. She also has to go to the bathroom a few times each night.
I would like her to stop taking this drug, but one of her doctors wants her to stay on it indefinitely. What would be the best way to withdraw gradually from this medicine?
A. Seroquel (quetiapine) is an antipsychotic medication that can be especially dangerous for older people. The FDA requires a special warning on this and other drugs such as Abilify (aripiprazole), Geodon (ziprasidone), Risperdal (risperidone) and Zyprexa (olanzapine). Such drugs may increase the risk of death, especially in people with dementia.
We discuss drugs that are especially hazardous for senior citizens in our book, Top Screwups Doctors Make and How to Avoid Them. It is available in libraries and online (PeoplesPharmacy.com).
Your grandmother’s uncontrollable movements (chewing, sucking and nodding) suggest a serious side effect called tardive dyskinesia that could become permanent if the drug is not stopped. You need a second opinion to assist with the withdrawal process.