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July 10, 2005

FDA Warns of Antipsychotic Use For Elderly

The FDA issued a warning recently to the elderly who are using antipsychotic medication. It appears that those who were taking an antipsychotic for dementia had a higher mortality rate than those taking a placebo in studies that have been done. When the antipsychotics were used to treat the elderly for disorders such as schizophrenia or mania there were similar results; a higher death rate for the elderly using an antipsychotic.

"FDA wants the manufacturers of the drugs in questions to add a boxed warning to the drugs' labels describing this risk and noting that these drugs are not approved for the treatment of behavioral symptoms in elderly patients with dementia. FDA says patients receiving these drugs for the treatment of behavioral disorders associated with dementia should have their treatment reviewed by their healthcare providers" (D'Amore, 2005).

This public health advisory includes many of the commonly known antipsychotics. Those included are (listed only by their marketed name): Abilify, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Risperdal, Clozaril, Geodon, and Symbyax. Atypical antipsychotics from all three drug classes are considered to have similar effects which leads researchers to believe that the increase in mortality rates is linked to their "pharmacologic effects".

The causes of death varied, although a substantial amount of them were from heart failure, sudden death, or infections like pneumonia. The mortality rates in elderly patients taking antipsychotics for dementia was about 1.6 to 1.7 times higher than the placebo group.

The source of this article was Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC. Med Ad News, by David D'Amore.

More information on medications used to treat bipolar disorder (including antipsychotics), and some other side effects.

To see a different version of this article, (although from a different source than this article) go to: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory?id=661088

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