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Friday 25th May 2018

Warning on learning disability drug

4th January 2008

A warning has gone out to doctors not to routinely give people with learning disabilities anti-psychotic drugs to curb aggressive behaviour.

It follows a study by researchers at Imperial College London of 86 patients, which found the drugs were no more effective than if they had been given none at all.

The Imperial College team said it was more important to address the underlying causes.

The team studied patients in 10 inpatient and community settings in England, Wales and Australia with one group given the first-generation anti-psychotic drug haloperidol, another was given the second generation version risperidone and the third group were given a dummy pill.

Researchers found that levels of aggression had decreased substantially with all three treatments by week four, but patients receiving the dummy pill had the greatest change.

Lead researcher Professor Peter Tyrer said: “The problem with patients with learning disabilities is that we haven’t had the evidence on whether anti-psychotic drugs work. Therefore, these patients were assumed to be the same as other mental health patients.

“But what our research shows is that drugs are no better than not giving any drugs. It seems what is important is the care a person receives.?

The report in The Lancet said that 200,000 people with learning difficulties in the UK are given anti-psychotic drugs. This is despite a risk of side-effects, such as weight gain, impotence and strain to the cardiovascular system.

David Congdon from the charity Mencap said that anti-psychotic drugs should be seen as a last resort.


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Article Information

Title: Warning on learning disability drug
Author: Mark Nicholls
Article Id: 5223
Date Added: 4th Jan 2008


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