Older models of antipsychotic drugs may not carry the same Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warnings as newer models of drugs, but that does not mean they are safer for the elderly. In fact, studies show older versions of antipsychotic drugs are more dangerous for elderly patients than newer drugs that already carry warning labels.
Early this year, the FDA warned that elderly patients with mental illness using newer antipsychotic drugs such as Zyprexa were at a greater risk of death than those taking no drugs. But the agency failed to include in the warning older versions of antipsychotics with brand names like Thorazine and Haldol. Worried that doctors would switch their their elderly patients to older versions of drugs, researchers in Boston studied the medical records of 22,890 patients in Pennsylvania who were prescribed both newer and older antipsychotics from 1993 to 2004. Elderly patients are often prescribed antipsychotic medication to treat agitation, delirium and dementia.
The results found the risk of death was higher with patients taking the drugs.
According to the FDA, they still do not have enough data to justify a warning label to be added to the older antipsychotic drugs. However, they are continuing to look into the issue.
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