Off-label use of powerful antipsychotic drugs has come in for plenty of debate in recent years. The expensive, newer-generation “atypicals” have been used to treat dementia, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, dementia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder…the list goes on. And all this while the Justice Department was investigating Big Pharma for off-label promotion of the drugs.
Drug manufacturer Ortho-McNeil-Janssen is being sued by Attorney General Martha Coakley for illegally marketing Risperdal, an atypical antipsychotic medication. The complaint, filed this week in Suffolk Superior Court, further alleges that Janssen failed to disclose serious risks associated with Risperdal’s use, including the risk of excessive weight gain, diabetes and, for elderly dementia patients, an increased risk of death.
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).