Antipsychotics for Parkinson's: The Problem

Antipsychotics for Parkinson's disease linked to increased mortality

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(RxWiki News) Physicians commonly prescribe antipsychotic drugs to treat psychosis associated with Parkinson's. However, a new study published in JAMA Neurology suggests that these drugs may be causing additional harm.

For this study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania medical center and other institutions analyzed the records of around 15,000 patients in the Veterans Affairs database from 1999 to 2010.

Parkinson's causes tremors, rigidity and trouble walking in the early stages. In time, it can lead to cognitive decline and psychosis.

All of the patients in this study had Parkinson’s disease — half were prescribed antipsychotics and the other half were not. The patients who began using antipsychotics were more than twice as likely as those who did not use the drugs to die during the following six months.

Senior study author Dr. Daniel Weintraub called for "careful consideration" before prescribing antipsychotics for patients with Parkinson's, suggesting alternative approaches through means other than antipsychotics. Since 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration has mandated black box warnings on antipsychotic drug packaging, noting the apparently increased risk of death when these drugs are used in dementia patients.

The Veterans Health Administration funded this research. Dr. Weintraub received honoraria from Acadia Pharmaceuticals.

Last Updated:
March 29, 2016