According to a government audit, almost one in seven elderly residents from nursing homes who suffer of dementia, receive very powerful antipsychotic drugs. The drugs are very dangerous, and they can be fatal. On top of that, those drugs are not accepted in order to treat conditions such as dementia.
Too many antipsychotic drugs prescribed
The audit stated that more than 50 percent of the antipsychotic drugs paid by Medicare in the year 2007 were wrong. The program paid $116 million in six months, for medicines which they should have not subscribed.
Daniel R. Levinson, inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, stated that the nursing homes residents, their families, and their caregivers should seek solutions for these errors. Mr. Levinson stated that these drugs, which include Abilify, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Risperdal and Geodon, could all be lethal. He also stated that way more people receive them then they should, and that the main reason why they receive these drugs is because of money. The companies which made these drugs illegally marketed them.
The government wanted to see the way in which the doctors are treating the Medicare patients in the nursing homes. Mr. Levinson stated that more data should be collected by the government, in order to see if the patients received the proper medication over the years. However, it is very likely that this will ever happen. The Medicare belongs to the public sector, and as a result, doctors and many people from the Congress would be against this analysis, for the reason that it violates the doctor-patient relationship.
A common trend
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services stated in response to the audit that the reason why some of the patients receive these drugs is because the drug makers pay the nursing homes in order for those to increase the prescriptions of their medicines. In 2009, Omnicare Inc., which is a pharmacy chain for nursing homes, had to pay $98 in order to settle accusations that it received money from Johnson & Johnson, which is a company that produces antipsychotic drugs. The Medicare officials stated that when people receive the prescription, the diagnosis is not included, so they cannot see if the prescriptions are accurate.
The doctors have been warned by the Food and Drug Administration that the antipsychotic drugs can cause death in the case of the elderly patients, yet even so, they continued to prescribe them. Dr. Daniel J. Carlat, editor in chief of The Carlat Psychiatry Report, stated that one of the reasons why doctors give these drugs to their patients is because it calms their agitation. It can also cause premature death, but the doctors are satisfied by the fact that they maximize their patient’s quality of life.
The audit revealed the fact that in the first half of 2007, 304,983 elderly patients were prescribed antipsychotic drugs. There were 8.5 million claims for these drugs, and 20 percent of them were for the nursing home patients. It has also been discovered that in 22 percent of the cases, the drugs were useless.