Blumenthal Calls for End to Over Prescription of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes

(Washington, DC) – Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) today renewed his call for an end to elder abuse following a hearing held by the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging on the over-prescription and misuse of antipsychotic drugs prescribed in nursing homes for patients with dementia:

“Excessive prescription of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes is elder abuse – plain and simple. It is chemical restraint, as pernicious and predatory as unnecessary physical restraint. While these drugs have warnings against using them for patients with dementia, an alarming majority of claims to Medicare are for patients with dementia” said Blumenthal. “We must to do more to protect consumers from this blatant misuse and encourage responsible use of antipsychotic drugs.”

The Food and Drug Administration issued a black box warning on the use of the antipsychotic drugs for dementia patients due to a demonstrated increased rate of mortality, but the Office of the Inspector General found that in spite of the warning, more than 80 percent of elders on these medications in nursing homes had dementia. Further, the Office of the Inspector General found that over a six month period, 51% of Medicare claims for the drugs were erroneous, resulting in  $116 million wasted taxpayer funds.