According to new research published by the British Medical Journal, antipsychotic medicines prescribed to dementia patients may increase the risk of death. A total of 180,000 of the people in the UK suffering from dementia are taking antipsychotics, and of those, 1800 were known to have died due to the drugs in 2009.
Over 75 thousand dementia patients in the USA were studied by researchers from Harvard Medical School, all of whom were prescribed antipsychotic medication to have a sedative effect on patients who had become distressed or aggressive. Although there was a clear link between an increased risk of mortality with the prescription of certain drugs the study could not conclude that the drugs were actually the cause of the deaths.
The Dementia Action Alliance has requested that all prescriptions for antipsychotics should be reviewed before the end of March, particularly to ascertain whether longer-term use of these drugs is safe in the absence of alternatives.