MisTreating PTSD: Soldiers & Seroquel
EUROPEAN HEART JOURNAL
Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD, Neurologist (ret) & Mr. Stan White (father of deceased veteran Andrew White)
Hundreds of Soldiers & Vets Dying From Antipsychotic – Seroquel
[published (electonically) December 29, 2011]
As a neurologist who has discovered and described medical diseases, I (FAB) read the May 24, 2008, Charleston (WV) Gazette article “Vets taking Post Traumatic Stress Disorder drugs die in sleep,” and opened and financed my own investigation into these unexplained deaths. Andrew White, Eric Layne, Nicholas Endicott and Derek Johnson, all in their twenties, were four West Virginia veterans who died in their sleep in early 2008. There were no signs of suicide or of a multi-drug “overdose” leading to coma, as claimed by the Inspector General of the VA. All had been diagnosed “PTSD”–a psychological diagnosis, not a disease (physical abnormality) of the brain. All were on the same prescribed drug cocktail, Seroquel (antipsychotic), Paxil (antidepressant) and Klonopin (benzodiazepine) and all appeared “normal” when they went to sleep. On February 7, 2008, Surgeon General Eric B. Schoomaker, had announced there had been “a series, a sequence of deaths” in the military suggesting this was “often a consequence of the use of multiple prescription and nonprescription medicines and alcohol.” However, the deaths of the ‘Charleston Four’ were probable sudden cardiac deaths (SCD), a sudden, pulseless condition leading to brain death in 4-5 minutes, a survival rate or 3-4%, and not allowing time for transfer to a hospital. Conversely, drug-overdose coma is protracted, allowing time for discovery, diagnosis, transport, treatment, and frequently-survival. Antipsychotics and antidepressants alone or in combination, are known to cause SCD. Sicouri and Antzelevitch (2008) concluded: (1) “A number of antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs can increase the risk of ventricular arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death,” (2)”Antipsychotics can increase cardiac risk even at low doses whereas antidepressants do it generally at high doses or in the setting of drug combinations.”
On April 13, 2009, Baughman wrote the Office of the Surgeon General (OTSGWebPublisher@amedd.army.mil): “On February 7, 2008 the Surgeon General said there had been ‘a series, a sequence of deaths.’ Has the study of these deaths been published?” On April 17, 2009 the Office of the Surgeon General responded, “The assessment is still pending and has not been released yet.” More than a year later and still no explanation, nor further acknowledgement that these deaths even took place. In a press release, (PRNewswire, May 19, 2009) Baughman wrote: “I call upon the military for an immediate embargo of all antipsychotics and antidepressants until there has been a complete, wholly public, clarification of the extent and causes of this epidemic of probable sudden cardiac deaths.”
Googling “dead in bed,” “dead in barracks,” by April 16, 2009, veteran’s wife, Diane Vande Burgt, had Googled 74 probable sudden cardiac deaths. By May 2010: 128, and, by November 2, 2011: 247. Two-hundred-forty-seven! In April 2010 I was in anonymous receipt of an Army National Guard Serious Incident Report for the 5 months 10/03/09 to 3/7/10. In it were 93 “incidents” including 4 “heart attacks,” 6 “cardiac arrests” and 3 “found dead”; 13 of 93 (14%) probable SCDs. Pfc. Ryan Alderman, was on a cocktail of psych drugs when found unresponsive, dying in his barracks at Ft. Carson, Colo. Sudden cardiac death was confirmed by an ECG done at the scene. Inexplicably, military officials de-classified his death and reversed the cause, calling it instead, a “suicide.” Again I challenge the military to produce the evidence.
In June 2011, a DoD Health Advisory Group backed a highly questionable policy of “polypharmacy” asserting: “…multiple psychotropic meds may be appropriate in select individuals.” The fact of the matter is that psychotropic drug polypharmacy is never safe, scientific, or medically justifiable. What it is a means of (1) maximizing profit, and (2) making it difficult to impossible to blame adverse effects on any one drug. From 2001 to the present, US Central Command has given deploying troops 180 day supplies of prescription psychotropic drugs–Seroquel included. In a May 2010 report of its Pain Management Task Force, the Army endorsed Seroquel in 25- or 50-milligram doses as a ‘sleep aid.’ Over the past decade, $717 million was spent for Risperdal and $846 million for Seroquel, for a mind-blowing total of $1.5 billion when neither Risperdal nor Seroquel have been proven safe or effective for PTSD or sleep disorders. Ironically, yet not surprisingly, pay-to-play in Washington becomes more egregious every day. Heather Bresch, daughter of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-WV) was recently named CEO of WV drug-maker Mylan Inc., that recently contracted with the DoD for over 20 million doses of Seroquel.
Defense Department Health Advisory Group chair, Charles Fogelman, warned: “DoD currently lacks a unified pharmacy database that reflects medication use across pre-deployment, deployment and post-deployment settings.” In essence, through a premeditated lack of record keeping, mandated by law at any other pharmacy or medical office to track potential fatal reactions to mixing prescription drugs, the military is willfully preempting all investigations into the injuries and deaths due to psychiatric drugs. I call on the DoD, VA, House and Senate Armed Services and House and Senate Veterans Affairs Committees to tell concerned Americans and the families of fallen heroes what psychiatric drugs each of the deceased, both combat and non-combat, soldiers and veterans were on? It is time for the military and government to come clean. SOURCE Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD