Care Homes Giving Alzheimer Patients the Chemical Cosh

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Byline: JENNY HOPE

DANGEROUS drugs are being prescribed to sedate thousands of Alzheimerssufferers in care homes, campaigners claimed yesterday.

An official inquiry will be told today that the use of the so-called chemicalcosh has serious side effects and can even lead to premature death.

Thecampaignerssaythat dementia patients with behaviouralproblemsare

being killed to make life easier for staff looking after them.

Theantipsychoticdrugsat thecentreoftheclaimsare not licensed for the treatment of Alzheimers and instead are prescribedto control agitation, delusions, sleep disturbance and aggression.

Growingconcernaboutthe misuse of antipsychotic drugs hasled to the inquiry by the all-party parliamentary group on dementia.

Typical drugs used for dementia symptoms are Largactil, Serenace, Stelazine andRisperdal, which were originally designed to treat schizophrenia patients. Anestimated 45 per cent of the Alzheimers suffererswho live in care homes are given the drugs around 100,000 in all.

Along-termstudylastyear showedthatpatientstreated withthemedication die on average six months earlier than those who are not.

After three years, only a third ofpatientstakingthedrugs were alive compared with two thirdsofthosenottaking them.Thedrugswerealso linked to a significant deteriorationin speaking and thinking abilities.

U.S.researchfoundthat antipsychoticdrugs trigger strokes, heart disease and falls among dementia patients.

HealthServiceguidelines allowtheir use only as a last resort when non-drug methods have failed.

Abanimposedlastyearon anti-dementia drugs for patientswithanythingother thanmoderatesymptomsis thought to be behind the increased demand for antipsychotics. …