Drugs Used For Treating Schizophrenia Kill The Elderly

Neuroleptic drugs have been known to cause strokes and deaths in the elderly being treated for dementia with these drugs. A new report claims these drugs could be responsible for as many as 1,800 deaths and 1,620 strokes in the United Kingdom every year.

According to an informational article, Antipsychotics Like Seroquel for Dementia Blamed for Deaths and Strokes, in AboutLawsuits.com:

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.

Of 180,000 elderly people being treated for dementia with neuroleptic, or the so called antipsychotic, drugs, according to the report only 36,000 were found to have gained any benefit.

This is a statistic I would imagine needs further investigation as we know what the dangers of taking these drugs are, and the meaning of benefit is always open to some measure of interpretation. For example, is it really the patient who benefits from the taking of these pills, or is it a quick fix for the nursing staff who have to deal with patients who are obviously demented?

In the United States, many of the antipsychotics prescribed to treat dementia, such as Seroquel, are not approved for that use by the FDA. This means that drug manufacturers are not supposed to market the drugs for dementia treatment, but doctors are not restricted from prescribing them. However, ongoing litigation against AstraZeneca over Seroquel produced internal documents that suggested that the company was promoting the antipsychotic drug for off-label uses, including dementia, illegally.

A Chicago Tribune investigation has found evidence of similar over prescription problems taking place in nursing homes in the United States.

The Chicago Tribune deserves accolades for pursuing this matter. Let’s hope that other watch dog organizations, investigative services, law firms, and newspapers will be able to follow suit.

For people with relatives in nursing homes, you need to look into this matter, and make sure that your loved ones are not being ‘maintained’ on these drugs as they have a great deal of potential for lessening the quality of life, and even for cutting short the lifespan of such individuals.