January 15, 2015 — Adults over the age of 65 who received a new prescription for an atypical antipsychotic medication had a 53% increased risk of falling and a 50% increased risk of nonvertebral osteoporotic fracture, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Conclusions of the study were based on data from 200,000 residents of Ontario, Canada who received a new prescription for quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), or olanzapine (Zyprexa) between 2003-2011.
Overall, 7% of patients on the medications had a fracture, compared to 5.5% of those who did not. Falls occurred in 4.4% of patients on antipsychotics, compared to 2.9% of non-users.
Antipsychotic medications are commonly used in older adults to treat dementia and other behavior problems. Other studies have linked antipsychotics with fall risks due to side effects like low blood pressure, sedation, and gait abnormalities.
The researchers concluded:
“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.”
The FDA has already issued safety warnings about the use of antipsychotics in elderly patients with dementia because they are associated with an increased risk of death.
The FDA required drug-makers to add a “Boxed Warning” stating that antipsychotic drugs are not approved for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis. Warnings were issued in 2005, after an analysis of 17 placebo-controlled studies found a 60-70% increased risk of death among patients on antipsychotics.
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