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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2009 Oct;10(15):2407-14. doi: 10.1517/14656560903200659.

Atypical antipsychotics in the elderly: a review of therapeutic trends and clinical outcomes.

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  • 1Banner Alzheimer's Institute, Phoenix, AZ 85006, USA.


Recent emerging data regarding the safety and tolerability of atypical antipsychotics in elderly patients with dementia have called into question common prescribing practices. Although the lifetime risk of developing significant psychopathology in dementia patients approaches nearly 100%, treatment options remain scant and controversial. Millions of people are suffering the consequences of these debilitating dementias. Yet the lack of regulatory approval or even recognition of the problem creates a dilemma for clinicians in practice who are trying to care for severely ill patients. There are data indicating that certain behavioral features can be treated successfully with atypical antipsychotics, offset by a high rate of adversity. This does not lead to the simple conclusion that they should never be used, since the alternatives are either fraught with the same shortcomings or actually lack evidence of benefit altogether. Further, it is not realistic to assume that nonpharmacological approaches, although preferred, will always carry the day. Since we do not have the evidence to define best practice for treating psychopathology, we are forced to make the most of the data we have and exercise best judgment about risk and benefit on a case-by-case basis.

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