Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Are Veterans Being Given Deadly Cocktails to Treat PTSD?

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 10, 2010

A potentially deadly drug manufactured by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has been linked to the deaths of soldiers returning from war. Yet the FDA continues to approve it.

March 6, 2010 |

Sgt. Eric Layne’s death was not pretty.

A few months after starting a drug regimen combining the antidepressant Paxil, the mood stabilizer Klonopin and a controversial anti-psychotic drug manufactured by pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, Seroquel, the Iraq war veteran was “suffering from incontinence, severe depression [and] continuous headaches,” according to his widow, Janette Layne.

Soon he had tremors. ” … [H]is breathing was labored [and] he had developed sleep apnea,” Layne said.

Janette Layne, who served in the National Guard during Operation Iraqi Freedom along with her husband, told the story of his decline last year, at official FDA hearings on new approvals for Seroquel. On the last day of his life, she testified, Eric stayed in the bathroom nearly all night battling acute urinary retention (an inability to urinate). He died while his family slept.

Sgt. Layne had just returned from a seven-week inpatient program at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati where he was being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A video shot during that time, played by his wife at the FDA hearings, shows a dangerously sedated figure barely able to talk.

Sgt. Layne was not the first veteran to die after being prescribed medical cocktails including Seroquel for PTSD.

In the last two years, Pfc. Derek Johnson, 22, of Hurricane, West Virginia; Cpl. Andrew White, 23, of Cross Lanes, West Virginia; Cpl. Chad Oligschlaeger, 21, of Roundrock, Texas; Cpl. Nicholas Endicott, 24, of Pecks Mill, West Virginia; and Spc. Ken Jacobs, 21, of Walworth, New York have all died suddenly while taking Seroquel cocktails.

Death certificates and other records collected by veteran family members show that more than 100 similar deaths have occurred among Iraq and Afghanistan combat vets and other military personnel, many of whom took PTSD cocktails that included Seroquel and other antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers, sleep inducers and pain and seizure medications.

Since the 2008 publication of “The Battle Within,” the Denver Post‘s expose of a “pharmaco-battlefield” in Iraq, in which troops were found to be routinely propped up on antidepressants, the Department of Defense has sought to curb the deployment of troops with mental health problems to combat zones. The DOD has also stepped up monitoring of soldiers who have been medicated, according to the Hartford Courant, and with good reason: 34 percent of the 935 active-duty soldiers who made suicide attempts in 2007 were on psychoactive drugs.
But the U.S. Army’s Warrior Care and Transition Office reports that soldiers are dying after coming home, many in Warrior Transition Units that were established in 2007 to prepare wounded soldiers for a return to duty or civilian life. According to the Army Times, between June 2007 and October 2008, 68 such veteran deaths were recorded — nine were ruled suicides, six are pending investigation and six were from “combined lethal drug toxicity.” Thirty-five were termed “natural causes.”

The mysterious deaths — and an alarming track record — have cast renewed scrutiny on Seroquel. Although it has not been approved for treatment of PTSD, Pentagon purchases of Seroquel nearly doubled between 2003 and 2007. Elspeth Ritchie, medical director of the Army’s Strategic Communications Office told the Denver Post the drug is “increasingly utilized as an adjunct for PTSD.”

Please read the rest of this very important story at Alert Net

One Response to “Are Veterans Being Given Deadly Cocktails to Treat PTSD?”

  1. Philip said

    It took me 8 months to get them to pay for my knee surgery. I lost over $80,000. And they sent me a check for $2,400. What about interest and all?? What about the part that says medical treament has to be provided immeidiatly?? And all they owe me is the max amount of $1,240 a week. The other AD&D policy stated ” They would not pay because my company policy states that I must be 80% disabled”. You don’t contract in Iraq if your 2% messed up!!! I’ve been waiting for surgery for 8 months, in pain, and no ins. As soon as they find out ” Its a workers comp claim” They don’t want to hear from you. The only thing to come out of this?? My 1st child will be born in 1 month. That doesn’t change the fact that both ITT and Chartis, have left me stranded in Thailand without medical care for 8 months.

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