Alzheimer’s Society urges action to curb dementia drug use

The Alzheimer’s Society has urged the government to publish its review into the prescription of antipsychotic drugs for people with dementia and issue a plan to reduce their use.

The review was announced last June, amid concerns that drugs were being prescribed inappropriately to manage the behaviour of care home residents and that antipsychotics posed particular risks for people with dementia, including strokes and increased mortality.

The probe was launched alongside the consultation on the national dementia strategy for England and was due to be completed last year.

Review still ongoing

However when the strategy was finally published in February, the Department of Health said the drugs review was still ongoing and was expected to report in the spring of 2009. Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Neil Hunt is due to address the issue in a speech to the annual meeting of the Royal College of Psychiatrists today.

He is expected to say: “Over 105,000 people are inappropriately prescribed antipsychotic drugs, costing over £60m a year. These drugs double the risk of death, triple risk of strokes and accelerate cognitive decline.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said the review would be published shortly. The probe is being led by Sube Banerjee, who co-authored the dementia strategy and is professor of mental health and ageing at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London.

Scottish warnings

The news follows warnings from regulators that antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed inappropriately for people with dementia in Scottish care homes.

Related articles

Interview: Sube Banerjee on the national dementia strategy

Alzheimer’s Society issues dementia strategy commissioning guide

People with dementia wrongly given drugs, say MPs


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