Critics claim meds misused in nursing homes

There are many causes of Ohio nursing home negligence, such as improper administration of drugs to the elderly. CNN investigators recently claimed that a drug intended to curb emotional outbursts in patients with progressive neurodegenerative disorders was misused, particularly by nursing homes, to limit these outbursts with patients afflicted with memory loss disorders.

The drug, Nuedexta, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment of pseudobulbar affect (PBA) in 2010. PBA is usually associated with people diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It leads to instances of uncontrollable and inappropriate laughing or crying.

PBA occurs in only five percent of patients diagnosed with dementia. Investor documents for the drug's manufacturer disclosed that 100,000 of the 1.8 million patients with PBA reside in long-term nursing homes.

Patients with dementia and Alzheimer's experience agitation involving wandering, anger and defiance that comes from an internal cause. However, PBI is hardly ever the cause of these symptoms.

CNN claims that the drug manufacturer had an aggressive campaign for doctors and long-term nursing home staffs to identify dementia patients and to prescribe this drug to patients with Alzheimer and dementia. Sales of this drug rose by 400 percent between 2012 and 2016 to almost $300 million.

The manufacturer's sales representatives reviewed patients' charts and ran training sessions on appealing Medicare coverage if coverage was denied. Doctors who promoted the drug received travel and other benefits from the manufacturer.

State nursing home administrators across the country questioned the administration of Nuedexta. CNN found that almost a quarter of the residents of a Los Angeles nursing home were prescribed with this drug and its psychiatrist was a paid speaker of its manufacturer. Local officials opened an investigation into this facility.

Experts argue that prescribing this drug as a treatment for agitation is not supported by data, however. In one study of 200 patients, Nuedexta caused improvement with some patients. It also increased the risk of a fall which may be life-threatening for dementia patients.

An attorney can help families of nursing home patients who are victims of personal injury. They can help assure that a lawsuit and other action may be taken against facilities that violate their standard of care.

Source: HealthLine News, "Pill being overprescribed in nursing homes, critics say," Carolyn Abate, Oct. 30, 2017

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