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New guidelines for dementia medication

New guidelines released this week will reduce the number of unnecessary prescriptions for senior Australians with dementia.

Developed by the University of Sydney in conjunction with Canada’s Bruyère Research Institute, the document was approved by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

The guidelines contain seven recommendations based on current evidence and information on when and how to trial withdrawal from two common prescription medicines: cholinesterase inhibitors and memantine.

With an estimated 413,000 Australians living with dementia, and 20,000 of these prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors, the guidelines were designed to ensure that the use of multiple medications did not cause harm to those with dementia.

Guideline developer Dr Emily Reeve said the clinical guidelines could help healthcare professionals make informed decisions regarding treatment and withdrawal.

“The availability of these deprescribing guidelines will provide a resource to help them, in conjunction with people with dementia and their family, decide when it is suitable for these medications to be withdrawn,” she said.

“It also gives guidance on how the medications should be withdrawn and what monitoring to do after discontinuation.”

The Australian and New Zealand Society for Geriatric Medicine has also endorsed the guidelines, and said it hoped it would lead to more individualised prescribing and deprescribing for those with dementia.

The development of the guideline is part of a project funded through the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre (CDPC), to improve the management of medication for people with dementia.

To view the guidelines, visit: http://sydney.edu.au/medicine/cdpc/resources/deprescribing-guidelines.php.

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