(HealthDay News) – Nearly one-quarter of nursing home residents are prescribed one or more antipsychotic agents, according to a research letter published in the Feb. 6 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Becky A. Briesacher, PhD, from the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, and colleagues analyzed prescription dispensing data from a large, long-term care pharmacy (Omnicare Inc.) that serves 48 states and half of all nursing home residents in the United States.

The researchers found that, of 1,402,039 nursing home residents, 308,449 (22%) received one or more antipsychotic prescriptions. There was significant variation in the prevalence of antipsychotic drug prescribing in nursing homes with the highest quintile states (28.1%) located in the central south and the lowest quintile states (17.2%) located mostly in the west. Of the 4,338,723 antipsychotic prescriptions in nursing homes, the majority (68.6%) were for the atypical agents quetiapine fumarate, risperidone, and olanzapine.

“Our finding that 22% of nursing home residents received antipsychotics in 2009–2010 is within the lower range of rates that were documented 25 years earlier before the passage of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987, which instituted regulations on the appropriate use of antipsychotics in nursing homes,” the authors write.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and health care quality industries.

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