Letter: Too much complacency over drug dosages

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Sir: Many families, desperate to help relatives stricken with severe mental illness, will have read with considerable apprehension of the sudden death of such an individual after high doses of antipsychotic drugs ('Mental patient's death fuels concern over drugs', 13 March).

Though appreciating that medications may be needed to control the worst symptoms of mental illness, families are too

often ill-informed or unaware of the risks involved with some of these: of possible severe and disturbing side effects and of how toxic, damaging or even fatal the consequences can be unless medications are given with the utmost care, particularly when a combination of drugs is involved.

It is crucial that every precaution be taken in administering such potent medications to such vulnerable individuals, and that our health authorities insist on stringent conditions in their use. 'The psychiatric profession has a somewhat misplaced confidence in the safety of antipsychotic drugs,' according to the professor of psychopharmacology quoted in your report.

Perhaps the families of the mentally ill will need to become 'mad', in the colloquial sense of angry, to safeguard those they care for from such misplaced


Yours sincerely,




13 March