Modern Medicine – July 16, 2011
Long-term-care (LTC) facilities are overusing antipsychotic drugs. One of every 7 elderly nursing home residents is receiving at least 1 atypical antipsychotic; in 83% of these cases, the drug is associated with a dementia diagnosis, yet the use of atypical antipsychotics in dementia increases the risk of death and is not approved by FDA, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
“Government, taxpayers, nursing home residents, as well as their families and caregivers, should be outraged — and seek solutions,” said Daniel R. Levinson, Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in a statement. “Despite the fact that it is potentially lethal to prescribe antipsychotics to patients with dementia, there’s ample evidence that some drug companies aggressively marketed their products toward such populations, putting profits before safety.”
OIG analyzed atypical antipsychotic use in LTC at the request of Sen Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). The report, issued in May, evaluated Part B and Part D claims data from January to June 2007. Analysts concluded that 51% of Medicare claims for atypical antipsychotics were erroneous. The claimed drugs were not used for medically accepted indications, not used off label as supported by recognized compendia, or not documented as having been administered to the elderly nursing home resident. The erroneous payments totaled $116 million for the 6 months studied.
OIG also found that 22% of atypical antipsychotics used in LTC were not administered according to Medicare standards regarding unnecessary drug use in nursing homes. The standards are designed to reduce excessive dosage, excessive duration of therapy, inappropriate use, and lack of appropriate monitoring. Noting that violation of unnecessary drug-use rules may affect nursing homes’ participation in Medicare, OIG recommended that HHS act to reduce unnecessary drug use in LTC.
The report included aripiprazole (Abilify, Bristol-Myers Squibb), clozapine (Clozaril, Novartis), olanzapine (Zyprexa, Eli Lilly), olanzapine/fluoxetine (Symbyax, Eli Lilly), paliperidone (Invega, Janssen), quetiapine (Seroquel, AstraZeneca), risperidone (Risperdal, Janssen), and ziprasidone HCl (Geodon, Pfizer).