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Antipsychotics for Dementia Raises Mortality Rate

(PSYCHIATRIC TIMES) - KINGSTON, Ontario, June 4 -- Using antipsychotic drugs to treat patients with dementia may be fatal, according to researchers here.They found a sharply increased risk of death that was evident within a month of starting the drugs, reported Sudeep Gill, M.D., of Queen's University and St. Mary's of the Lake Hospital, and colleagues, in the June issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

The mortality rate was higher with the older "conventional" medications than with the newer "atypical" antipsychotics, Dr. Gill said. "Our study adds to mounting concerns about the use of antipsychotic drugs in dementia."

The finding - from a large population-based cohort study here - reinforces warnings issued two years ago by both the FDA and Health Canada, Dr. Gill and colleagues reported.

On the basis of meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials, both agencies warned of an increased mortality risk when the atypical antipsychotic drugs were used to treatment patients with dementia. But the warnings were based on relatively small trials and did not address the issue of older medications.

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