Despite warnings, antipsychotics for elderly on the rise

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Physicians have not sufficiently heeded warnings about prescribing antipsychotic drugs for seniors with dementia, Canadian researchers suggest.

While safety warnings have slowed their use, too many dangers remain, according to Dr. Geoffrey Anderson, of the University of Toronto, and colleagues. They analyzed prescription data in Ontario and discovered antipsychotic drug use rose 20% from a month before the first of three federal warnings were issued until a five-year period ended in 2007. More than two-thirds of the study subjects were nursing home residents.

Health Canada, the country's national department of public health, issued warnings about three new atypical antipsychotic drugs between late 2002 and mid-2005. The drugs increase the risk of stroke and death in seniors with dementia, federal officials said. Studying findings were reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

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