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Dementia drug prescriptions reflect racial disparities: Study


London: A recent study has pointed towards the presence of racial disparities in the medical care provided to dementia patients.

The University College of London (UCL) led research inferred from its findings that dementia patients from black and Asian communities in the UK are deprived of the same quality of treatment which is available to their white counterparts.

The finding which was published in Clinical Epidemiology, reveal that Asian people with dementia are less likely to receive anti-dementia drugs, and they take them for shorter periods.

People belonging to black ethnic groups who are diagnosed with dementia are prescribed antipsychotic drugs. Not giving attention to the primary symptoms, they are being suggested drugs that are used to treat dementia-related distress.

The lead author of the study, Professor Claudia Cooper said, “Our new findings are concerning as they appear to reflect inequalities in the care people receive to treat symptoms associated with dementia.”

Researchers analysed data from 53,718 people across the UK who had a dementia diagnosis, and 1,648,889 people without dementia, drawing from The Health Improvement Network primary care database and collected between 2014 and 2016.


Analysed a data of 53,718 people across the UK who had a dementia diagnosis, and 1,648,889 people without dementia, the researchers found that, Asian people with dementia were 14 per cent less likely than white patients to be prescribed anti-dementia drugs when they were potentially beneficial, and received them for an average of 15 fewer days per year.

Drugs like antipsychotics are usually prescribed to treat some of the associated and psychological symptoms, while, Anti-dementia drugs cholinesterase inhibitors or memantine are the only class of medication available for treating dementia.

Both Asian and black people with dementia were prescribed antipsychotic drugs for longer than white patients, by 27 and 17 days more, respectively, which could put them at greater risk of harmful side effects.

“Rates of antipsychotic prescribing in all ethnic groups exceeded recommendations for treating the often very distressing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, such as agitation or challenging behaviours, which are the most common reasons antipsychotic drugs are prescribed to people living with dementia,” explained Professor Cooper.

Co-author professor Jill Manthorpe also pitched that health experts should raise the question of whether antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed instead of other forms of support that could address causes of the distressing symptoms.

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