Antipsychotics causing 1,800 deaths a year

Around 1,800 people in the UK with dementia are dying each year as a result of being prescribed antipsychotics, a report commissioned by the DoH has concluded.

The report calls for an audit of antipsychotic prescribing and for PCTs to reduce the use of these agents by two thirds within three years. Audits of prescribing should be repeated annually for the next three years to gauge progress, the report said.

Care services minister Phil Hope, who commissioned the report, said that the government has accepted all the recommendations. These include the need for PCTs in England to commission specialist services to support primary care workers, as well as improved training for GPs and other healthcare professionals.

It is estimated that 180,000 people with dementia are being given antipsychotic medication. But only around a quarter of these people (36,000) would derive any benefit from treatment, the report concluded.

In addition, treatment with antipsychotics leads to 1,800 additional deaths and 1,620 additional cerebrovascular adverse events, the report said. Around three-quarters of these deaths and events would be expected occur in patients prescribed the medicines inappropriately.

The report was produced by Professor Sube Banerjee, professor of mental health and ageing at King's College London.

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