Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Short-term use of antipsychotics in older adults with dementia linked to serious adverse events

Older adults with dementia who receive short-term courses of antipsychotic medications are more likely to be hospitalized or die than those who do not take the drugs, according to a report in the May 26 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

“Newer antipsychotic drugs (olanzapine, quetiapine fumarate and risperidone) have been on the market for more than a decade and are commonly used to treat the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia,” the authors write as background information in the article. “Antipsychotic drugs are often used for short periods to treat agitation in clinical practice. They are frequently prescribed around the time of nursing home admission.” About 17 percent of individuals admitted to nursing homes are starting on antipsychotic medication within 100 days, and 10 percent receive only a single prescription. Given the widespread use of short-term prescriptions, it is important to evaluate their safety, the authors note.


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