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Inquiry launched into dementia drugs

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An inquiry into the use of sedative drugs on dementia patients was launched today after concerns were voiced by carers and academics about the risks of inappropriate prescribing.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, made up of over 60 MPs and Peers, will investigate the use of antipsychotic drugs given to people with dementia in care homes after claims that the NHS spends £80m on unnecessary prescribing.

Opponents to the drugs claim that they have minimal benefit and cause dangerous side effects.

Jeremy Wright MP, chairman of the All Party Group said: “When anti-psychotics are given to people with dementia inappropriately they can leave the individual excessively sedated, with increased risk of stroke and side effects such as tremors and rigidity.”

Research carried out by Professor Clive Ballard, director of research at UK charity, the Alzheimer’s Society has found that patients who stop taking neuroleptic drugs three years after initial use have a 44% higher chance of survival than those still taking the drugs.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society said: “It is absurd that we are wasting millions of pounds prescribing these drugs when this money would be much better spent training health professionals in dementia care.”

There are 700,000 people in the UK who suffer from a form of dementia, with over 100,000 people currently being prescribed anti-psychotics.

Further research by Prof Ballard will be shown on BBC1’s Panorama documentary Please Look After Dad tonight at 8.30pm.
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