• antipsychotic;
  • elderly;
  • mortality

Objectives:  To explore the odds ratios (ORs) of death associated with antipsychotic (AP) medications dispensed to elderly subjects.

Method:  Subjects were veterans and war widows 65 years and older dispensed an AP drug in 2001 in NSW or ACT. For all subjects, dispensing records for AP medication, benzodiazepines, lithium, carbamazepine, sodium valproate and antidepressant medication were extracted and combined with age, gender and date of death. A study date was allocated, either the date of death or a random date from 1.5.01 to 31.12.01. Subjects dispensed an AP in 2001, but not dispensed an AP or other psychotropic medication in the 120 days prior to their study date, formed a reference group. Psychotropic dispensing in the 120 days prior to the study date was analysed using nested logistic regression models to produce ORs of death associated with various AP drugs. The ORs for risperidone, olanzapine and pericyazine were compared. Haloperidol ORs were established for those dispensed the drug 0–30 days prior to study date or 31–120 days prior to the study date.

Results:  The ORs associated with haloperidol, olanzapine, risperidone, pericyazine, thioridazine and chlorpromazine were significant when compared with the reference group. Odds ratios for all three haloperidol periods were significant when compared with olanzapine, risperidone and pericyazine 120 day ORs. Although there was a trend favouring olanzapine when compared with risperidone, the difference in the ORs failed to reach significance (p = 0.066).

Conclusions:  Haloperidol is associated with significantly higher mortality rates than other AP medication but it is not clear whether this represents drug toxicity or the medical conditions for which it was dispensed. There was no evidence that the conventional AP pericyazine was associated with a higher mortality rate than olanzapine or risperidone.