Antipsychotic Drugs Could Increase Mortality in Parkinson's Disease Patients

MARCH 20, 2017
Ryan Marotta, Assistant Editor
Antipsychotic medications may do more harm than good in patients with Parkinson’s disease, with a recent study indicating that the use of these drugs can lead to a heightened mortality risk in this population.
The study, published in JAMA Neurology, examined records from a Veterans Affair database on 7877 patients with Parkinson’s disease who were prescribed antipsychotic drugs at any point between 1999 and 2010, as well as on a comparable number of Parkinson’s disease patients who did not use these medications.
The research team found that, over a 180-day period, patients who used antipsychotic medications faced a 2.35 times higher mortality rate than those in the control group. The relative risk appeared to be linked to each specific drug, with first-generation (or “typical”) antipsychotics such as haloperidol associated with a 50% greater relative mortality risk compared with more recent “atypical” antipsychotics such as risperidone and quetiapine. The relative risk was 2.16 times higher for quetiapine fumarate compared with nontreatment, 2.46 times higher for risperidone, 2.79 times higher for olanzapine, and 5.08 times higher for haloperidol.
The researchers plan to follow up their research by evaluating morbidity factors among patients with Parkinson’s disease who use antipsychotics. In the meantime, the study authors recommended that health care providers only prescribe these medications to patients with Parkinson’s disease after looking for other possible solutions and only if a patient’s psychosis is of clinical significance.