Target: Andy Slavitt, Principal Deputy Administrator for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Goal: Limit the use of antipsychotics on elderly patients.
Overuse of psychiatric drugs among elderly patients is widespread in the U.S., according to recent findings from federal investigators. Overuse and even misuse of antipsychotics are an issue both for individuals in assisted living facilities and those who live at home.
Such antipsychotic drugs can be given to patients who are experiencing hallucinations or delusions, according to the American Healthcare Association. This use happens particularly in nursing homes with inadequate staff. Still, inappropriate use and overuse of these drugs must be addressed through policy.
When used to treat elderly patients with psychosis, these drugs can actually increase the patients’ risk of falls with fractures, hospitalizations, and even death among other complications. Such drugs–some of which include Abilify, Risperdal, Zyprexa and Clozapine–are also expensive, costing hundreds of millions of dollars according to American Healthcare Association, a trade group for nursing homes.
Unfortunately, more sinister interests have resulted in egregious deals between drug companies and physicians. One Chicago psychiatrist was sued for his involvement in 140,000 false cases of Medicare and Medicaid in which he prescribed Clozapine for thousands of elderly and indigent nursing home patients, according to a recent article in the New York Times. He ultimately pleaded guilty to being involved taking $600,000 in kickbacks from drug companies, which paid him for consulting fees and entertainment expenses.
Please sign the petition below and demand better care for elderly Americans.
Dear Mr. Slavitt,
I am writing in order to bring your attention to recent research on antipsychotic overuse among elderly patients with dementia. Many doctors have prescribed these drugs to calm patients with violent behavior, hallucinations or delusions. However, evidence of the drugs being prescribed and used inappropriately is a serious cause for concern.
Reducing the use of these drugs could not only save money, but also, more importantly, it would enable health care providers to deliver better care to these vulnerable patients. I urge you to seriously consider the positive impact such an action could have. Please use your leadership to ensure that these individuals under care receive the dignity and respect they deserve.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Borya via Flickr