Antipsychotic use continues to rise

Almost three million prescriptions for antipsychotics were made in England in 2008, despite safety concerns over their use, figures reveal.

The DoH is expected to publish its long-awaited review into the inappropriate prescribing of risperidone and olanzapine among dementia patients this spring.

But figures published last week by the NHS Information Centre show that prescribing of risperidone increased from 1,161,600 scrips in 2007 to 1,201,900 in 2008.

Prescribing rates for olanzapine also increased over the same period from 1,618,600 scrips to 1,704,400 scrips.

The latest figures mirror those predicted by GP in an investigation carried out last summer (GP, 20 August 2008).

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, told GP that it was alarming that the total number of prescriptions was continuing to rise.

'Antipsychotics can double risk of death, triple risk of stroke and cause devastating side-effects in people with dementia. The government's review of antipsychotics is a crucial opportunity to address this issue.'

Mr Hunt added that a NICE tool to record and audit antipsychotic use would help monitor their use and set targets.

The charity has called for three-monthly checks on GPs' antipsychotic prescribing.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

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