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Action Urged Over Dementia Drugs

Alzheimer's Patients Prescribed Anti-psychotic Drugs


MPs have urged the Government to intervene to stop the inappropriate prescribing of powerful anti-psychotic drugs to Alzheimer's patients.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia said up to 105,000 people with dementia in the UK are wrongly being treated with the drugs, but research has shown the medications have side effects which can actually accelerate mental decline.

The drugs are intended for psychotic patients suffering from serious symptoms such as delusions but the MPs said they continue to be used as a first resort solution for challenging behaviour from sufferers of Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.

The MPs demanded that ministers take action to address the problem and urged health watchdog Nice to carry out a thorough review.

The report, entitled A Last Resort, lists five steps for reducing the use of anti-psychotics in the treatment of dementia.

It points out that currently no audit or regulation of the prescribing practice exists.

Jeremy Wright, chairman of the MPs' group, said: "A Last Resort shines a light on one of the darkest areas of dementia care. Anti-psychotics can double risk of death and triple risk of stroke in people with dementia, heavily sedate them and accelerate cognitive decline."

Jonathan Peacock a Partner at Law Firm Irwin Mitchell who have represented many families whose relatives have suffered abuse in residential care homes said; "All too often powerful anti-psychotic drugs are being used inappropriately to control the behaviour of dementia patients, sometimes merely because staff looking after them are too busy or lack the necessary training or expertise to manage them in any other way. These alarming cases of inappropriate medication or over medication highlight yet again the inadequacy of safeguards over prescribing practice and the piecemeal and unsatisfactory nature of the regulation of care homes."