Doctors prescribing fewer antipsychotics for seniors after FDA warnings

Since the U.S. Food and Drug Administration put “black box” warnings on certain antipsychotics for seniors with dementia, doctors have been prescribing less of them, a new study found.

Researchers using data from Veterans Affairs registries found that overall use of older and newer antipsychotics dropped from 18% in 1999 to 12% in 2007, according to Reuters. Short of pulling it from the market, putting a black box warning on it is the strongest signal the FDA can send regarding the risks of a drug. Doctors in long-term care settings have been using drugs such as Seroquel and Risperdal with dementia patients exhibiting paranoia, aggression and agitation.

Researcher Dr. Helen C. Kales, a psychiatrist at the University of Michigan, said these drugs can still be beneficial to some patients, but added that simple changes, such as switching a patient from a female caregiver to a male caregiver, can ease symptoms, too. The study was published in the Feb. 7 issue of the Archives of General Psychology.