Atypical Antipsychotics Potentially Harmful for Elderly Patients

Based on the review of new meta-analysis, the off-label use of atypical antipsychotics in elderly patients could potentially do more harm than good. The study, the largest of its kind on the subject, could prompt clinicians to potentially reconsider the way they prescribe these drugs.

Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression, atypical antipsychotic medications are frequently being used for the off-label treatment of other mental health problems such as dementia, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders, substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder. In fact, the use of atypical antipsychotics for off-label purposes has doubled in recent years.

For elderly patients, treatment-related adverse events associated with use of atypical antipsychotics like risperidone, aripiprazole and olanzapine include an increased risk for death and urinary track symptoms, as well as stroke for risperidone and extrapyramidal symptoms for olanzapine and risperidone when compared to the use of a placebo. For the non-elderly, treatment-related adverse events included weight gain, fatigue and sedation.

The study’s researchers noted that their information should prove useful to physicians when examining their patients’ needs. For example, if a patient presents with kidney problems, the increased risk for urinary tract infections associated with the use atypical antipsychotics could do more harm than good.

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