Do you have an elderly family member suffering from dementia? If so, check their medicine cabinet. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued “black box” warnings on seven antipsychotic drugs used to treat behavioral problems in elderly patients with dementia. Older patients taking the antipsychotic drugs are more likely to die prematurely, according to the FDA’s findings.
The drugs that must now carry the strongest “black box” label include: Abilify from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Zyprexa and Symbyax from Eli Lilly, Seroquel from AstraZeneca, Risperdal from Johnson & Johnson, Clozaril from Novartis, and Geodon from Pfizer. Most of the drugs are approved for treating schizophrenia and mania but are often used off-label for treating dementia.
Most of the deaths were heart-related or from infections such as pneumonia. The clinical studies compared patients taking antipsychotic drugs with those given placebos. Results from the studies indicated patients taking the drugs had a rate of death of about 1.6 to 1.7 times that of patients taking a dummy pill.