Men who take a drug that accounts for more than one-quarter of all the prescriptions to treat overactive bladder (OAB) run the risk of developing dementia.
The drug, oxybutynin, is widely prescribed as a generic drug, but is also known under its brand name, Ditropan. Researchers in the UK found that those who took the medication for more than 3 years were 54% more likely to develop dementia within 10 years. The results of the study were just presented at the European Association of Urology’s annual conference.
“Doctors need to look closely at the levels of prescribing,” Daniel Pucheril, MD, of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, who headed the research, told the Daily Mail. “Doctors need to look closely at the levels of prescribing. Despite evidence of side effects, physicians are not commonly checking for cognitive effects in those using these medications.”
Oxybutynin accounts for 27% of all OAB prescriptions in the US. Although there are many OAB drugs available, oxybutynin is popular because it is generic, and far cheaper than newer, brand-name drugs.
Oxybutynin belongs to a class of drugs known as anticholinergics, which includes antidepressants, antihistamines and antipsychotics. Long-standing evidence has found that anticholinergics can negatively influence cognition.