Doctors are routinely prescribing powerful anti-psychotic drugs for nursing home residents. A significant number of those residents, however, do not have a medical condition for which use of these drugs is either intended or recommended. In Massachusetts, for example, a recent study by the federal agency responsible for Medicare/Medicaid payments noted that 22% of nursing home residents were improperly being prescribed these medications.
The Attorney General of Utah recently filed suit against drug manufacturers Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca for improperly marketing these anti-psychotic drugs to nursing home residents and others. Among other things, the lawsuit alleges that the companies engaged in false and misleading advertising to promote use of these medications for non-FDA approved uses, such as treatment of dementia. Not only does this practice by drug companies needlessly increase healthcare expenses, but it also places patients at risk of developing serious medical conditions, including diabetes.