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The Efficacy, Safety, and Tolerability of Antipsychotics in the Elderly

Susan M. Maixner, MD; Alan M. Mellow, MD, PhD; and Rajiv Tandon, MD

Published: August 1, 1999

Article Abstract

Antipsychotic medications are among the most widely prescribed class of medications for elderly patients. Despite their high use, few studies document the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of these agents in this patient population. This is unfortunate because, as a group, the elderly are exceptionally sensitive to the adverse effects associated with antipsychotics, in particular, the extrapyramidal side effects (EPS). The atypical antipsychotics with their lower propensity to cause EPS and lower need for augmenting anticholinergic medication have introduced new options for elderly patients who need antipsychotic therapy for a number of psychiatric and neurologic disorders with psychotic manifestations. This review covers the pharmacologic, clinical, and regulatory issues involving antipsychotic use in elderly patients that warrant consideration by the practicing psychiatrist.

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