January 15, 2015 — JAMA Internal Medicine has published a study linking the use of newer antipsychotic medications with a 50% increased risk of fractures and a 53% increased risk of falling among adults over 65.
Researchers collected data from 2003-2011 on 200,000 older adults who were newly-prescribed an atypical antipsychotic, such as quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), or olanzapine (Zyprexa). These patients were matched 1:1 with adults in Ontario who did not take the medication.
Of the patients on antipsychotics, 7% had a nonvertebral osteoporotic fracture, compared to 5.5% of non-users. Similarly, 4.4% of patients on antipsychotics had a fall, compared to 2.9% of non-users.
The authors of the study warned:
“These findings call into question the widespread off-label use of atypical antipsychotic medications and support increasing evidence of safety concerns regarding their use in older adults.”
This is not the first time antipsychotic medications have been linked to serious risks for older adults. In 2005, an analysis of 17 placebo-controlled studies found that older adults on antipsychotics were 60-70% more likely to die compared to non-users.
In 2005 and 2008, the FDA issued safety warnings about the increased risk of death. The FDA also required drug-makers to add a “Boxed Warning” clarifying that antipsychotics are not approved for dementia-related psychosis.
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