The first major study outside of nursing homes has concluded that anti-psychotic drugs given to at least 1/4 of American patients in the advanced stages of Alzheimers are not worth the risk of side effects, which include grogginess, worsening confusion, weight gain, trouble walking and even in rare cases, sudden death.
The study, conducted by leading researcher Dr. Lon Schneider, director of the Alzheimer’s Disease Center of California and a University of Southern California professor, tested Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel that were supplied to the study by the pharmacutical companies who originally developed them. Originally for the treatment of Schizophrenia these drugs have always been prescribed along with significant health warnings.
Alzheimers patients typically suffer from agitation, aggression and psychotic behaviour and are often prescribed anti-psychotic drugs to control these symptoms. However, in the double-bind, placebo controlled trial on 421 patients with Alzheimers disease, there were no significant improvements in the 36 weeks of treatment.
In addition, on average four out of five patients stopped taking their medication early because of worsening side effects and there were 5 deaths (for undisclosed reasons) in the medicated group, as opposed to 2 in the control group.