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Federal Officials Still Seeking to Lessen Dosing of Nursing Home Residents with Antipsychotic Meds

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The federal government says a two-year program designed to reduce the number of people living in nursing homes who are prescribed antipsychotic drugs has not reached its goal.

In recent years, many patients have been prescribed a class of drugs known as atypical antipsychotic drugs. The most popular drugs in this class are sold as Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa, and Abilify and we’ve reported extensively on the side effects associated with them.

According to a Wall Street Journal report this week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services revealed that the number of nursing home residents who are prescribed these powerful prescription drugs was reduced by 9 percent nationwide. The agency had hoped to reach a 15 percent drop in that total. Today, based on the government’s data, about 21.7 percent of nursing home residents are prescribed an antipsychotic drug. That’s down from 23.9 percent in 2011.

The effort to reduce the number of nursing home residents on antipsychotic drugs was really done to impact Medicare spending. Wall Street Journal notes that in 2011, Medicare Part D plan spending on antipsychotic drugs reached an all-time high at $7.6 billion.

Also spurring a need to reduce the number of nursing home residents being prescribed antipsychotic drugs was a report issued in 2011 by the Inspector General of Health and Human Services that found many residents being given these drugs were diagnosed with dementia. Dementia is not an approved condition for using antipsychotic drugs. That report revealed that 88 percent of nursing home residents nationwide were being prescribed an antipsychotic drug for dementia symptoms, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that people suffering from dementia who were prescribed any type of antipsychotic drug faced an increased risk of death caused by the drugs, Wall Street Journal notes.


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