The Government recently ordered an investigation looking into the prescription of a powerful anti-psychotic drug used to treat dementia. The findings were shocking, showing that around 145,000 people suffering with dementia were wrongly prescribed this drug. Only 36,000 of those taking the drug derived any benefit from it and the medication has been linked to the deaths of around 1,800 (1%) patients.
It was complaints from patients’ groups and MPs that the drugs are misused that sparked the need for a review as they all believed the drug was being used as a way to suppress the anxiety and distress that is common in people with dementia.
Care services minister, Phil Hope, has promised a major crack down on the practice and will be appointing a national clinic director for dementia who will conduct an audit of GPs and hospital doctors’ prescribing of the drugs. He has also said that he will taker steps to ensure that the use of psychological therapies is promoted and better training for staff and carers is provided.
The Government has set targets for the local health authorities too reduce reliance on the drug and to ensure that people with dementia and their carers have access to a variety of different psychological therapies.