There is drug abuse going on in a large segment of our health care industry — the increased push of anti-psychotics drugs in nursing homes.

image001(1)These dangerous medications, anti-psychotics, are being prescribed at an alarming rate and often without the patient’s consent. In a recent AARP study on the use of drugs in nursing homes, the AARP highlights a real problem in the nursing home industry. As many as 1 in 5 patients in our nation’s 15,000 nursing homes are giving anti-psychotic drugs that are not only unnecessary, but extremely dangerous for older patients. The reason? Staff convenience and because nursing homes do not provide adequate staff training on the risks and alternative non-medication approaches, as well as facilities being chronically understaffed.

Further, there is as an aggressive campaign by pharmaceutical companies to market their drugs to the nursing home industry. Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice fined Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil charges because of their aggressive marking of drugs, including anti-psychotics to nursing homes, when they knew the drugs had not been approved by the FDA as safe and effective for a general elderly population. The corporation also allegedly paid kickbacks to physicians, as well as Omnicare (the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy provider). In 2009, Eli Lilly, the maker of Zyprexa settled a case with federal prosecutors for $1.4 billion for marketing its drug to older people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Anti-psychotic drugs are intended for people with severe mental illnesses, such as patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Not our elderly. In fact, these drugs carry the FDA’s black box warning that they are not intended for frail older people or patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Wendy York and the team at York Law Firm have been handling drug errors and the overuse of anti-psychotics in nursing homes as a part of their elder abuse practice for almost 20 years. The use of anti-psychotic drugs could be one (of many) signs of elder abuse. If you believe your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse or medication errors in a nursing home or assisted living facility, please contact our attorneys or call our office so that we can investigate your case at 916-643-2200. We are dedicated to representing elders and dependent adults who have been injured, neglected or abused.

If you would like more information on the AARP study please visit: http://www.aarp.org/health/drugs-supplements/info-2014/antipsychotics-overprescribed.2.html.

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