Antipsychotics used too often, study says

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Long-term care psychologists 'outraged' over federal plan they say omits seniors
Long-term care psychologists 'outraged' over federal plan they say omits seniors

More than one-fifth of U.S. nursing home residents took an antipsychotic drug as of 2010, according to research recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The drugs often were prescribed for off-label uses.

University of Massachusetts-Worcester researchers looked at 1.4 million residents receiving drugs from long-term care pharmacy Omnicare. About 22% of those residents were prescribed at least one antipsychotic during the 2009-2010 study period.

More than 68% of residents receiving antipsychotics took a drug from the atypical class, usually used for treating bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Quetiapine (Seroquel) was the most commonly prescribed of these, followed by risperidone (Risperdal) and olanzapine (Zyprexa). They are often given in the long-term care setting to individuals with dementia.

Use of the drugs persisted despite “extensive data demonstrating marginal clinical benefits and serious adverse effects, including death,” wrote lead researcher Becky A. Briesacher, Ph.D. 


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