The increasing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease has seen an accompanying increase in adverse drug events (ADEs) related to various psychotropic medications used by these patients. To assess the prevalence and economic burden of psychotropic ADEs, American researchers have conducted a retrospective analysis comparing the geriatric AD and non-AD populations. Visits to the emergency department in 2013 that were analysed included 427,969 patients with AD and 20,492,554 patients without. 1.04% of AD patients experienced at least one adverse event while overall, AD cases were more regularly admitted as inpatients (64.90% vs 34.92%, P < 0.01). Incidence of psychotropic related ADEs was significantly more likely in patients with AD (OR = 1.66; 95% CI = 1.20, 1.82). ADEs associated with AD were most commonly due to benzodiazepines, antipsychotics and autonomic nervous system–affecting agents (adrenergic agonists, antimuscarinic agents and anticholinergic agents). The study, published in the Annals of Pharmacotherapy, concludes that the geriatric population with AD experienced psychotropic-related ADEs more frequently than the geriatric population without AD.  The integration of these results into protocol development may help to reduce future ADEs in the geriatric population. The original research can be viewed here.

Contributed by Australian Medication Safety Services Associate – Isabella Singh