Eighty-one percent of dementia patients who were prescribed neuroleptic drugs before the Committee on the Safety of Medicine warning, are still being prescribed them a year later, according to new findings from the Alzheimer’s Society. This shocking situation also follows a US Food and Drug Administration alert last month warning that these treatments increase the risk of death in people with dementia [[12/04/05a]].

The FDA warned that – across seventeen controlled studies of dementia - patients treated with the drugs were 1.6 to 1.7 times more likely to die than patients given placebo. The drugs in question were Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify (aripiparozole), Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa (olanzapine) and Symbyax (fluoxetine plus olanzapine), AstraZeneca’s Seroquel (quetiapine), Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal (risperidone), Novartis’ Clozaril (clozapine) and Pfizer’s Geodon (ziprasidone).

In 2004, the CSM ruled that Lilly's Zyprexa and Johnson & Johnson's Risperdal were linked to a three-fold increase in stroke when used to treat behavioural problems in older patients with dementia [[10/03/04b]]. Despite this, Alzheimer’s Society research shows that 42% of people with dementia in care homes are still being prescribed them. The research was conducted in 12 nursing homes across the UK and involved 166 people with dementia.