The government wants to see a “significant” reduction in inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to people with dementia in England in the next five years.
Antipsychotic drugs should not be the first resort for treating people with dementia, it says. And health and social care workers should consider what else might be triggering challenging behaviour in patients, such as an untreated urinary tract infection, which can cause delirium, or untreated pain.
The government’s call is outlined in the ‘Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020’ report published on 21 February 2015.
Statistics from the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre’s 2012 audit on dementia and antipsychotic prescribing, which David Cameron’s report highlights, found that the number of antipsychotic prescriptions for patients with dementia fell by 52% between 2008 and 2011. Although the audit identified a decrease, it did not address the issue of whether the drugs were being prescribed appropriately. It also only collected data from patients registered with GP practices.
The government now wants to see an international dementia institute established in England and more money invested in drug and diagnostic development and research.
There should be more partnerships created between academia, patient charities, the NHS and the private sector to make England a world-class leader in the discovery of dementia treatments, according to the report.
The government is also keen to see the creation of a global framework for dementia research to speed up the development of disease modifying therapies that are currently planned to be launched by 2025.
The 2020 challenge comes within a week of the launch of a £30m national network of research centres by the charity Alzheimer’s Research UK.