Prescription Solutions study: Use of AAs up diabetes risk in elderly

IRVINE, Calif. Off-label use of atypical antipsychotics may increase the risk of developing diabetes among the elderly, a new study found.

Atypical antipsychotics are a group of newer-generation antipsychotic drugs that are indicated for the treatment of psychiatric conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar mania and acute mania; but are often prescribed for unapproved indications by physicians. The study, conducted by pharmacy benefit manager Prescription Solutions, was presented at the 2010 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society in Orlando, Fla.

In the retrospective study of 78,450 elderly patients without diagnoses of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or diabetes, an association was demonstrated between study patients being on an atypical antipsychotic and starting a diabetic medication. This was demonstrated even though 97% of the study patients with AA fills had doses within recommended guidelines for the treatment of dementia, Prescription Solutions said. Elderly patients with at least one fill of an AA drug were 32% more likely to start a medication for diabetes within one year compared with similar patients without AA exposure.

"We are fortunate to have a wealth of retrospective data that helps us study the effects of medications on this growing population," said Joseph Addiego, M.D., SVP and chief medical officer, Prescription Solutions. "The message for physicians who may be prescribing atypical antipsychotics for the elderly is to be careful not to discount the risk of new-onset diabetes, even when prescribing these drugs in small doses."