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Older People (Drug Treatment)

Volume 401: debated on Friday 14 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the change from traditional to atypical antipsychotics drugs to treat older people in (a) care homes and (b) hospitals; what assessment he has made of possible over-medication of people using antipsychotic drugs; and if he will make a statement. [99380]

Information about the prescribing of antipsychotic drugs is only available in relation to prescriptions dispensed in the community. It is estimated that, in 2001, just under 40 per cent, of antipsychotics dispensed to older people were atypicals, while in April-September 2002 this proportion is estimated to have increased to just over a half. There are likely to be a number of reasons for the move to atypicals. One is that clinicians believe they are better tolerated by patients than traditional antipsychotices. The Government is aware of concern about the possible overuse of antipsychotic drugs for older people A number of steps should help ensure their appropriate use—in particular, implementation of the medicines management supplement of the older people's national service framework and the requirements in the care homes national minimum standards.