Anticholinergic drugs and dementia: a causal link?

Anticholinergic drug use is on the rise due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK medicines regulator is also considering extending access to the anticholinergic bladder drug oxybutynin over the counter.

In this episode, we will look at the potential implications of these changes, particularly in older people, and examine the case for deprescribing. We will also assess emerging evidence that suggests that the cumulative burden of anticholinergics over a lifetime could be a causal factor for dementia.

Thank you to Graham Stretch, chief pharmacist at the Argyle Group in west London, his patient Miriam* who agreed for us to record her consultation, and also to Chris Fox, professor of clinical psychiatry at the University of East Anglia.

This programme is presented by executive editor Nigel Praities and senior data journalist Julia Robinson. It was produced by Geoff Marsh.

*Some details have been changed to ensure confidentiality.