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Long-Term Use of Some Antipsychotics Not Warranted in Older Adults: Study
Date:11/28/2012

concern was the rise in risk for developing metabolic syndrome -- a collection of symptoms that can increase a person's odds of developing heart disease and diabetes. Metabolic syndrome means a person has at least three of these signs: elevated blood fat levels, low "good cholesterol," elevated blood sugar, large waist circumference and high blood pressure.

In the study, one-third of the patients developed metabolic syndrome within a year.

Dr. Lon Schneider, professor of psychiatry, neurology and gerontology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, was intrigued by the study's findings.

"This was a pragmatic study with good design and the main findings are enlightening about the extensive level of adverse events and the very limited efficacy of these drugs," said Schneider, who wrote a commentary on prescribing antipsychotic medicine in the August issue of the journal Clinical Neurology News.

Schneider said the new study confirms what has been seen in effectiveness trials and in observational studies.

"The important information that it adds is the considerable level of adverse events," he said. "The study shows that when drugs are compared head to head, there is a high level of discontinuation due to intolerability. You don't see this in the pharmaceutical company placebo control trials."

Another expert said the new findings are not surprising.

"There have been concerns about the efficacy of these antipsychotic drugs for a long time," said Dr. Dan Blazer, chairman and professor of psychiatry at the Duke University School of Medicine. He added that this research will "put more pressure on the brakes."

"[But] there are individual patients in whom these types of drugs can make a big difference," Blazer said. "The issue is caution in using them."

Blazer and Schneider both warned that the danger is in using them as a "chemical straitjacket," which can happen in nursing homes
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Long-Term Use of Some Antipsychotics Not Warranted in Older Adults: Study
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