Clinical cosh drugs raise risk of dying early

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Experts have found more evidence that prescribing dementia patients “chemical cosh” drugs increases their risk of dying early.

Antipsychotics are widely used in care homes and hospitals, but critics argue they are often given as sedatives so patients are easier to look after rather than for any medical benefit.

Guidelines say they should only be used as a last resort and for short periods, but some patients have been prescribed them for years.

Harvard Medical School carried out the biggest study ever of US nursing home residents, involving 75,445 people aged 65 and over.

Experts examined several drugs and found haloperidol – which is widely used in the UK – in particular increased the death risks .

Writing in the British Medical Journal, the experts concluded: “The data suggest that the risk of mortality with these drugs is generally increased with higher doses and seems to be highest for haloperidol and least for quetiapine.”

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