More elderly Swedes prescribed anti-psychotic drugs

Around 45,000 people over age 75 were given anti-psychotic drugs last year despite questions about the medical necessity of the prescriptions.

The medications are meant for patients with psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia, but most of the elderly patients receiving the drugs suffer from dementia

The medicine is said to help calm down dementia patients.

In the country as a whole, prescriptions for anti-psychotic drugs to the elderly have increased by more than 25 percent since 2000, according to figures from the Apoteket pharmacy monopoly.

“It’s hardly the number of schizophrenia cases that are increasing, but rather that those with dementia are getting the medicines,” said Yngve Gustafson, professor and chief physician in geriatrics at Umeå University, to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

He calls the prescribing a scandal and believes that the elderly are too fragile for the medications. Many suffer from serious side effects and the risk of dying, having a stroke, or being injured in a fall increases.

Ingvar Karlsson, a psychiatrist at Sahlgrenska University Hospital, said that the patients don’t receive the medicine for their own good.

Rather it’s about allowing health care workers to have a tolerable work environment, he told DN.