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Outrage: Psychotic Drugs Given to Nursing Home Elderly

May 11, 2011

Despite the fact that it is potentially lethal to prescribe anti-psychotics to patients with dementia, there’s ample evidence that some drug companies aggressively marketed their products towards such populations, putting profits before safety.

– Daniel Levinson, Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, whose office did the analysis.

My regular readers know my 85 year old mother is in a nursing home. There is nothing homey about these facilities. My mom has diabetes and congestive heart failure with some dementia. As much as I would liketo take care of her in my own home, I was medically not capable, nor financially able. I visit the facility she is in on an irregular schedule. I do this so I can observe at different times of the day what goes on in terms of how many people are on staff and the nature of care given.

I also check my mom’s AARP Rx summary scrupulously for any irregularities in the medicines listed. Children of elderly parents need to be vigilant about monitoring their parents care and be their firm advocate. Do not be intimidated nor reticent to make inquiries or question “the experts”. I came upon this article from our local NPR station and was not happy to see this kind of gross malpractice.

Excerpt: About 1 in 7 elderly residents of nursing homes receives a so-called atypical antipsychotic medicine, a federal audit finds, despite an increased risk of death when the medicines are used to manage dementia in older people.

A review of medical records found that most of the atypical anti-psychotics were being used outside the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the medicines to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Indeed, 88 percent of the Medicare claims for the drugs show they were prescribed for elderly people with dementia.

To Levinson’s point on marketing, nursing home pharmacy chain Omnicare agreed to pay the federal government $98 million in 2009 to settle charges it took kickbacks from J&J to boost sales of Risperdal.

Read the entire article, click here

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