Risk Of Potentially Deadly Side Effects For Dementia Patients
An investigation by the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) found that nursing homes are giving many elderly residents powerful antipsychotic drugs that put their lives at risk, according to a new report.
The report was critical of the widespread use of atypical (second-generation) antipsychotics with patients with dementia. In 2005 the Food and Drug Administration issued a public health advisory, warning that atypical antipsychotic drugs increase the risk of death in elderly patients with dementia.
Yet the recent investigation found that 88% of the Medicare claims in 2007 for atypical antipsychotics were for individuals with dementia.
In a statement accompanying the report, HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson faulted drug companies for aggressively and illegally marketing these drugs to doctors for treatment of dementia and other off-label uses. It also held the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services responsible for failing to properly monitor the use of the drugs.
The Inspector General notes that the many financial payments the drug companies have made in settling lawsuits against them for illegal marketing practices do not make up for the risks to which nursing home residents have been exposed. “Money can’t make up for years of corporate campaigns that market drugs with questionable benefits and potentially deadly side effect for vulnerable, elderly patients,” he said.
With 210 nursing homes and convalescent facilities listed for Colorado in the www.medicare.gov database, and 38 listed for Wyoming, the number of the elderly exposed to the dangers of antipsychotics in our region is of great concern.
If someone you know has been wrongly drugged with antipsychotics or other psychiatric drugs in a nursing home, you can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We also welcome your comments below.
For more information about the dangers to the elderly of antipsychotics and other classes of psychiatric drugs, and about how psychiatric drugs are used as chemical restraints on the elderly in nursing homes, click here.