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Antipsychotic Use can be The Death Sentance for Alzheimer's Victims

The Wall Street Journal has just published an article in their "Technology & Health Section by Shirley S. Wang (9 January 2009) on the dismal practice of using antipsychotic drugs in the treatment of agitation and disruptive behaviors by Alzheimer's patients. The article is entitled: "Antipsychotics Can Spur Alzheimer's Deaths." The article was contained in the British Medical Journal, Lancet Neurology.

This article is just one of a long series of articles that have appeared in the recent past decrying the use of antipsychotic drugs in the treatment of Alzheimer's.

The article states that the findings of a recent clinical trial "bolster long standing concerns in the field about the long term use of antipsychotics in this patient population."

The article is in error however when it states  "Such medications are approved to treat agitation and disruptive or risky behaviors in these patients for short periods of time, defined generally as three months or less. However many patients remain on these drugs for much longer periods. This may be true in the UK where the study was done however in the US there are NO FDA APPROVED ANTIPSYCHOTIC DRUGS for Alzheimer's or other dementia uses either short or long term. In fact such drugs are required to contain a FDA "Black Box Warning against such use.

The FDA's non approval of such drugs for Alzheimer's treatment seems to have done little to slow down such use by doctors. Even the FDA Black box warning seems to be ignored by an arrogant medical profession. The FDA's drug safety expert Dr. David Graham has even testified at a congressional hearing that "you have probably got 15,000 elderly people in nursing homes dying each year from the off label use of antipsychotic medications..." This too seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

The British clinical trial bolsters the previous data that suggests such use also results in a high mortaility rate. In fact previous indications have suggested a doubling of the mortality rate when used for Alzheimer's and dementia victims.

The following is quoted from the Wall Street Journal article: "Patients who remained on antipsychotic drugs were significantly more likely to die after one year or longer than those who were switched to a placebo....After three years, patients in the placebo group had a two thirds chance of still being alive while those in the antipsychotic treatment group had only a one third chance , said Dr. Ballard."

Please refer to the extensive materials to be found on this website under Alzheimer's Drugs and in particular the article on Dangerous Drugs for Alzheimer's.....for detailed and complete information.

This is a subject close to my heart as my mother was the victim of the negligent use of such a drug. My mother Ellen F. (Nedland) Silbaugh died from the complications of Alzheimer's in a small town nursing home in Wisconsin on 21 October 2007. 

                                                                                                Photo below is my mother Ellen F. (Nedland) Silbaugh.

Ellen F. Silbaugh

My mother had been on an antipsychotic drug for many months. By the time I understood the danger involved with this drug use and noted her unusual symptoms, it was too late. I had tried to put an end to the Nursing Home's use of the drug a month before my mother died but the medical establishement was like a runaway train that could not be stopped in time. The drug involved had the FDA Black Box warning against such use. I was unaware of it at the time and had not been told of the FDA warning against such use.

I bear responsiibility for a failure to get more directly invovlved in my mother's day to day care at an earler date. (During that time period I was already involved in the day to day care of my wife who died recently  from the complications of Alzheimer's. My wife's death was almost exactly one year later than my mother and was on October 23rd, 2008. This is an explanation and not an excuse.) I had placed a trust in my mother's nursing home where no trust should have been placed.





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