In 1959, the FDA approved a drug known as ‘thioridazine’ for the treatment of schizophrenia. Also known by its brand name “Mellaril,” in the U.S. and “Apo-thioridazine” in Canada, the adverse effects of this drug have been known about for some time now, making it a last-choice treatment for mental disorders.
It is known that thioridazine has several side effects, the most serious of which are related to the cardiovascular system. Basically, these drugs can cause changes in heartbeat (arrhythmias).
It has long been suspected that these changes could be fatal. However, this has been hard to prove. Now that there are a number of successful and minimally dangerous drugs available for the treatment of schizophrenia, thioridazine is starting to look like a less appealing option because of its flaws.
Health Canada also sent out a notice informing manufacturers of this drug that they had to stop selling it by the end of September 2005. The instructions came after the last of three deaths in the past five years that were rumored as being linked to the drug’s effects on heart rhythm. Since then, sales of the drug have been halted in Canada.
Since the manufacturers can’t provide sufficient evidence to prove that the drug could not have caused the fatalities, the Canadian drug regulators have pulled it from the market. It’s yet to be seen if the FDA will follow suit in the United States, however the drug is currently under scrutiny by the organization.
If you are a U.S. citizen taking thioridazine, you may want to consider talking to your doctor about other treatment options. For now, do not stop taking your medication and only switch under your doctor’s advice.