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Neuroleptic drugs over-used in California nursing homes

You simply can’t be wishy-washy about using neuroleptic drugs on elderly dementia patients. Unfortunately, many people in the media don’t seem to understand this fact. Take the article, Audit: Common psychiatric meds can be deadly for elderly, about how a government audit led to a report on the damage caused by neuroleptic drugs.

The report released Monday by the Health and Human Services Inspector General’s Office shows that 88 percent of the second-generation antipsychotic drugs prescribed at U.S. nursing homes are for patients with dementia, despite a government warning that such patients face an increased risk of death on such drugs.

Why would the government issue such a warning if patients didn’t face an increased risk of death on such drugs? It wouldn’t.

In California the situation is alarming.

Such medications are prescribed daily to 24,000, or about a fourth, of the 99,000 nursing home residents in the Golden State, federal data shows.

There is absolutely no way that ¼ of the nursing home residents in California have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, the disorders these drugs supposedly were designed to treat. The use of these drugs is therefor primarily “off label”, or for uses that have not been approved by the FDA.

The report was based on a review of nursing home patient medical records from the first half of 2007. The findings include:

• Fifty-one percent, or $116 million worth, of claims for the medications were “erroneous,” meaning they were not given to patients or did not meet Medicare nursing home prescribing guidelines.
• About 83 percent of claims were for “off-label” uses, meaning they were given to patients for conditions other than the serious mental disorders the drugs were developed to treat.
• Of the 2.1 million elderly nursing home residents, 14 percent had a prescription for an atypical antipsychotic drug between Jan. 1 and June 30, 2007.

The California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform has launched a “Campaign to Stop Drugging” because of this very problem. The advocacy group has published a guide to the public on the subject of protecting the elderly from this kind of drug abuse. The CANHR has also held a conference for elderly advocates, and attempted but failed to pass legislation calling for more rigorous informed consent.

This is not a localized problem, and people in other states need to pay close attention to it. Nursing home residents in all likelihood are being drugged into a premature grave in their states as well.

“Anytime anyone takes a hard look at this, they find terrible things,” [CANHR lawyer Anthony] Chicotel said. “They need to focus attention away from just looking and focus on finding solutions.”

This article ends with a trade group doctor arguing for the use of these deadly chemicals. Relatives need to take note. If you want your elderly relatives around awhile longer, ignore the end of this article. This last word is a drug company promotion that has the potential to kill your loved one. Look for substance in it, and you will find none. Equal time for rich and powerful drug companies is not equal time in actuality. All you have to do to get some idea of what I mean when I say this is to turn on the television set. Direct to consumer advertising has made for a very slippery slope between anybody and truly health-conscious information based decision making. It’s not a good idea to kill your elderly relatives if you have any positive regard for them, and if you can help it. Neuroleptic drugs will do just that.