'Dangerous' dementia drugs to be reviewed

The prescribing of powerful anti-psychotic drugs to patients with dementia is to be reviewed immediately, ministers have said.

The announcement follows evidence that up to half of GPs are prescribing the drugs as a "chemical cosh" to subdue challenging patients, despite safety warnings issued four years ago. Ivan Lewis, a Health minister, ordered the review at the launch of a proposed national dementia strategy to improve care for the 570,000 sufferers in England.

Two drugs, risperidone and olanzapine, are widely used in treating schizophrenia but carry an increased risk of stroke in elderly patients. However, a recent survey of 355 GPs by BBC Radio 4 found more than half admitted prescribing them.

Mr Lewis said: "This first-ever national dementia strategy... will set out how we will improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their families, improve their quality of care, increase awareness and ensure earlier diagnosis and intervention."

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