The ABC News (2/24, Moisse) “Medical Unit” blog reports, “Elderly nursing home residents who take certain antipsychotic drugs for dementia have an increased risk of death,” according to a study published online Feb. 23 in the BMJ. “The study of more than 75,000 nursing home residents with dementia, all of whom were 65 or older, found that residents taking the drug Haldol [haloperidol] had double the risk of death as those taking Risperdal [risperidone],” with the risk being “highest during the first 40 days of treatment.”
“In fact, the risk of death associated with haloperidol (Haldol) is so high that its use ‘cannot be justified because of the excess harm,’ according to Krista Huybrechts, PhD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues,” MedPage Today (2/24, Smith) reports. “Quetiapine (Seroquel) appeared to be the safest among six medications studied in a large cohort of people 65 and older in US nursing homes,” the study found. “While antipsychotics are not approved for people with dementia, they are widely used to help control aggression, the researchers noted.”
HealthDay (2/24, Preidt) points out, “In 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration warned that certain antipsychotic drugs are associated with an increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia. This warning was expanded to include conventional antipsychotics in 2008, according to a journal news release.” The study authors “said that, despite the FDA action, the use of antipsychotic drugs for this patient population is likely to grow,” due to the fact that “there are a growing number of elderly patients with dementia who require some type of treatment.” Also covering the story are BBC News (2/24, Gallagher) and the UK’s Daily Mail (2/24, Hope).
— “Drugs Raise Death Risk in Dementia Patients,”Katie Moisse , abc News, February 23 , 2012.