Fraudulent Neuroleptic Drug Use Over 50 %

Fraudulent, or off-label, prescribing of neuroleptic drugs has reached ridiculous high levels; in fact, the % of people prescribed such drugs fraudulently, or for purposes for which they haven’t been approved by the FDA, is now well over 50 %. This is what a story on a research study for shows, Study: Reducing Off-Label Use of Antipsychotic Meds May Save Money.

Researchers say that 57.6 percent of patients prescribed antipsychotic medications in data from 2003 did not have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, the conditions for which the drugs were approved for use. Use of medication for treatments that is not FDA-approved is called off-label use.

75 % of all neuroleptic drug prescription in the USA is covered by Medicaid. By ending the practice of fraudulently prescribing drugs the country could be saving great deal of money in health care. This is what the data (ca. 2003) collected from 42 states by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and published in the American Journal for Managed Care, seems to suggest.

During 2003, 372,038 patients received an antipsychotic medication. Of these patients, 214,113, or 57.6 percent, did not have a diagnosis of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Diagnoses included other mental disorders: 35 percent, minor depression — 25.4 percent, major depression — 23.2 percent, no mental disorder — 18.8 percent, conduct disorder — 18.8 percent, and anxiety disorder — 16.2 percent.

The researchers behind this study understate the case. Atypical neuroleptic drugs cause a metabolic syndrome which is the primary reason people in mental health treatment are dying off on average at an age 25 years younger than the rest of the population.

“Antipsychotics were the highest selling medication class at $14.6 billion in 2009,” [professor of public health sciences, Douglass L.] Leslie said. “Medicaid bears a significant proportion of these costs. Hence, off-label use may be responsible for a considerable portion of state Medicaid budgets, with little or no documented clinical benefit and a substantial risk of adverse effects. Off-label use may be an area of potential savings with little impact on patient outcomes.”

If there is little or no clinical benefit and a substantial risk, how can you say with any degree of reliability that ceasing to use these drugs fraudulently would have little impact on outcomes? I would think that outcomes would be likely to improve a great deal if mental health professionals resorted to more treatments that were beneficial and that didn’t cause any potential life-threatening risks to overall physical health instead.