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article imageConcern over antipsychotic 'drug overuse' in nursing homes

By Tim Sandle     Feb 21, 2013 in Health
A report has expressed concerns about the level of antipsychotic drug prescriptions throughout nursing homes in the U.S.
The warning comes from a report issues by the University of Massachusetts' Medical School (led by Becky Briesacher). The report is an assessment of the prescribing of antipsychotic drugs at U.S. nursing homes, to residents, between August 2009 and August 2010.
The outcome, Health Mania reports, was that around 22% of 1.4 million elderly nursing home residents was administered an antipsychotic drug at least once. This level is some way above the last study undertaken twenty-five years earlier.
The drugs administered were primarily Quetiapine (Seroquel), Risperidone (Risperdal), and Olanzapine (Zyprexa).
The reason for administering antipsychotic drugs was for conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. They are not ordinarily given for people with other or less advanced forms of dementia, although one concern within the report is that the drugs are possibly being administered for this purpose. According to the Boston Globe in a story run in 2012, Federal guidelines indicate that antipsychotics are intended for patients with severe mental illness; however, many nursing homes administer them more broadly to residents who punch, kick, or shove others.
The main thrust of the report, Medpage summarizes, is that the level of antipsychotic drug prescriptions is far higher than the intended benefits of the medicines would suggest. The researchers point out that the effects of antipsychotic drugs (also known as neuroleptics) are more often limited and that, in many instances, the drugs can do more harm than good.
What concerns the study authors is that the new survey comes after the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, which set out to lower the use of such medicines, and yet the level of administration is higher for the current survey compared with the previous survey (which collected data at a time prior to the act being passed).
The U.S. nursing home antipsychotics study has been published in the American Medical Association's Journal.
More about Antipsychotics, Drugs, Prescription drugs, Nursing homes, Alzheimer
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