Doctors prescribing fewer antipsychotics for seniors after FDA warnings

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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.
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