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But the department said it can't determine how many of those prescriptions went to its 610 female prisoners versus its more than 14,000 male prisoners."A breakdown of offenders receiving Seroquel by gender is not available," a CSC spokesperson wrote in an email."CSC does not have these figures available, nor do we have a system that allows us to readily track this information."Advocates say it's time someone dug further into the issue.

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David Juurlink, a pharmacologist at one of Canada's leading teaching hospitals, said using quetiapine to help people sleep is dangerous."That's just bad medicine," said Juurlink, head of clinical pharmacology and toxicology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.One medication under scrutiny, quetiapine (widely known under the brand name Seroquel), is approved only for treating bipolar diseases and schizophrenia; however, it is sometimes prescribed off-label as well, most commonly as a sleep aid.According to a memo obtained by CBC News and The Canadian Press, Correctional Service Canada felt compelled to order a halt to those kinds of unapproved uses of quetiapine in February 2011."Seroquel was known as the 'sleeping pill' in the prison system," a former female inmate, whose identity cannot be revealed because she was convicted as a youth, said in an interview.The investigation also found a dramatic spike over the last decade in prescriptions for all mood-altering medications among female prisoners, according to previously unpublished statistics.The revelations have led Canada’s prison watchdog to investigate prescribing practices at Correctional Service Canada.

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