Nearly one in seven elderly nursing home residents, nearly all of them with dementia, are given powerful atypical antipsychotic drugs even though the medicines increase the risks of death and are not approved for such treatments, a government audit found.

“Government, taxpayers, nursing home residents as well as their families and caregivers should be outraged and seek solutions,” Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, wrote in announcing the audit results.

Mr. Levinson noted that such drugs — which include Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Abilify and Geodon — are “potentially lethal” to many of the patients getting them and that some drug manufacturers illegally marketed their medicines for these uses “putting profits before safety.”

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