Use of Antipsychotic Drugs for People with Dementia: Revisited

[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 1 Issue 12, July 2011].


The Dementia Action Alliance – representing more than 50 health and social care organisations – has called for renewed action to cut the prescription of “chemical cosh” antipsychotic drugs. Approximately 180,000 people with dementia are prescribed antipsychotic drugs in the UK; 80% of these inappropriately.

In 2009 a landmark report by Professor Sube Banerjee estimated 145,000 people in the UK with dementia were being prescribed these drugs wrongly, causing 1,800 deaths a year unnecessarily. The government agreed with these findings. It proposed that antipsychotic use could be reduced safely by two-thirds over a period of three years (i.e. by 2012). Recent figures from the NHS Information Centre, by contrast, suggest that prescription of these antipsychotics may have dropped by less than 20% over the past two years.

The Dementia Action Alliance – which includes the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK and the Department of Health – has now re-iterated that it wants all prescriptions for antipsychotics to be reviewed by the end of March 2012.

The Dementia Action Alliance has published a leaflet giving information and advice about how to help ensure antipsychotics are not prescribed inappropriately.

Paul Burstow, Care Services Minister, comments:

“It is unacceptable that 1,800 people with dementia die prematurely every year as a result of antipsychotic medication. That is why I’m backing this campaign. Reducing the use of antipsychotic medication is one of the Coalition Government’s four key priorities for dementia. With the right support, people can live well with dementia and continue to do the things they enjoy for years after diagnosis.”

Full Text Link (a)


Hughes, D. (2011). “Chemical cosh” dementia drug prescriptions concern. BBC Health News, June 9th 2011.

Full Text Link (b)


Banerjee, S. (2009). Report on the prescribing of anti-psychotic drugs to people with dementia: time for action. London: Department of Health, 2009.

Related Historical Links

Government response to Banerjee’s report. (November 12th 2009).

Alzheimer’s Society response: Review calls for action on dangerous use of antipsychotic drugs for dementia. (November 12th 2009).

About Dementia and Elderly Care News

Dementia and Elderly Care News. Wolverhampton Medical Institute: WMI. (jh)
This entry was posted in Acute Hospitals, Antipsychotics, BBC News, Charitable Bodies, Community Care, Dementia Action Alliance, For Carers (mostly), For Doctors (mostly), For Nurses and Therapists (mostly), For Social Workers (mostly), In the News, Management of Condition, NHS, Pharmacological Treatments, Quick Insights, Statistics, Universal Interest and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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