November 16, 2009
According to a new report, side effects of antipsychotics, such as Seroquel, Zyprexa, Risperdal and Abilify, could be responsible for as many as 1,800 deaths and 1,620 strokes each year among the elderly with dementia in the United Kingdom.
The report, which was commissioned by the British government, found that the use of antipsychotics for dementia has been largely ineffective, resulting in improvement in only 20% of patients. As a result of the findings, the U.K. Department of Health has initiated plans to reduce the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs like Zyprexa, Risperdal, Abilify and Serquel for dementia in its own health system, and hopes that the reduction will be picked up by other nations as well.
There are an estimated 180,000 elderly people with dementia in the United Kingdom currently being treated with the antipsychotic drugs, according to the report’s author, Professor Sube Banerjee. However, only 36,000 were found to derive any benefit from the drugs.
“The findings of my review confirm that there are indeed significant issues in terms of quality of care and patient safety,” said Banerjee, professor of mental health at King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry, in a letter to the Minister of State that accompanied the report. “These drugs appear to be used too often in dementia and, at their likely level of use, potential benefits are most probably outweighed by their risks overall.”
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