Antipsychotics and Seniors With Dementia

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March 2, 2015 -- Antipsychotic drugs are being overused by seniors with dementia and Medicare needs to take immediate action to cut back on unnecessary prescriptions, U.S. government investigators say.

Doctors will prescribe antipsychotic drugs for dementia patients with disruptive behaviors such as yelling, screaming and hitting. Such prescriptions are common in nursing homes with too few staff, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report to be released Monday, The New York Times said.

The GAO -- an arm of Congress -- also noted that the Department of Health and Human Services "has taken little action" to decrease the use of antipsychotic drugs by seniors with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia who don't live in nursing homes.

The Obama administration is already working with nursing homes to reduce their use of antipsychotic medications, The Times reported.

Antipsychotic drugs can increase the risk of death in seniors with dementia who also have psychosis, the Food and Drug Administration says.

"The report raises many red flags concerning the potential misuse and excessive use of antipsychotic drugs for patients with Alzheimer's and other dementias," said Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine and chairwoman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, The Times reported.

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