U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Herb Kohl, D-Wis., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., today filed an amendment seeking to combat the costly, widespread and inappropriate use of antipsychotics in nursing homes. “This amendment responds to alarming reports about the use of antipsychotic drugs with nursing home residents,” Grassley said. “It’s intended to empower these residents and their loved ones in the decisions about the drugs prescribed for them.”
The state’s response to Grassley was made public yesterday when the agency responded to a Right-to-Know Request filed by Ken Kramer, an investigator for Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, a group that investigates and exposes psychiatric abuse. “The state’s response to Grassley was made public yesterday when the agency responded to a Right-to-Know Request filed by Ken Kramer, an investigator for Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, a group that investigates and exposes psychiatric abuse.”
With little oversight and apparent carte blanche, a relative handful of Texas physicians wrote $47 million worth of Medicaid prescriptions for powerful antipsychotic and anti-anxiety drugs over the past two years, according to a Star-Telegram analysis. The top five doctors alone wrote $18 million worth. Grassley asked Texas and other states for the top 10 prescribers who billed Medicaid for certain drugs. The Star-Telegram used prescriber numbers to identify the doctors, then sorted and tallied the drugs they were prescribing. Also reviewed was information on other mental-health drugs that have cost taxpayers about $1.3 billion during the past five years.
Most of the drugs have gone to children and adolescents, although prescribing the drugs to children, such as a toddler, is considered “off-label” — uses not approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Now the state’s Medicaid program is among others under scrutiny, after Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, began investigating the use of mental-health drugs this year.
Two prominent authors of a 1999 book teaching family doctors how to treat psychiatric disorders provided acknowledgment in the preface for an “unrestricted educational grant” from a major pharmaceutical company. But the drug maker, then known as SmithKline Beecham, actually had much more involvement than the book described, newly disclosed documents show. The grant paid for a writing company to develop the outline and text for the two named authors, the documents show, and then the writing company said it planned to show three drafts directly to the pharmaceutical company for comments and “sign-off” and page proofs for “final approval.” The 269-page book, “Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Psychopharmacology Handbook for Primary Care,” is so far the first book among publications, namely medical journal articles, that have been criticized in recent years for hidden drug industry influence, colloquially known as ghostwriting.
U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, requested data from each state this year listing which doctors write the most prescriptions for eight common drugs covered by Medicaid, the federal health program for the poor. The reports were intended to “ensure that taxpayer dollars are appropriately spent,” Grassley wrote in a letter to state officials. The report detailed the top prescribers of the following drugs:Abilify, Geodon, Oxycontin, Risperdal, Roxicodone, Seroquel, Xanax, Zyprexa. Among the doctors getting the most reimbursements were a Columbia psychiatrist who wrote about 3,900 prescriptions for the drugs in question in 2008 and 2009. The doctor billed about $1.3 million to Medicaid, according to a Post and Courier review of the data.