One-Third of Seniors with Dementia Are Being Given Antipsychotics

—even though such toxic drugs are not approved to treat dementia!

report [1] from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that nearly one-third of older adults with dementia who spent more than 100 days in a nursing home were given antipsychotics through Medicare’s prescription drug program in 2012. We previously reported that a similar situation exists with brain-damaged veterans [2]—and even with infants and young children [3], especially those treated through Medicaid. They are all given these very toxic and inappropriate medications.

Why is this happening? Are Big Pharma profits more important than the health of our most vulnerable populations—seniors and young people?

A bipartisan pair of senators are now calling for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to investigate the potential misuse and overuse of these drugs.According to the letter [4] from Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME), nearly 30% of seniors in nursing homes and nearly 14% living outside of nursing home care are being given antipsychotics to treat the behavioral symptoms of dementia—despite “specific warnings that they not be given to patients with dementia due to an increased risk of falls or death”!

The FDA has never approved such drugs to be used for behavioral problems from dementia, nor for use in especially vulnerable populations such as children, seniors, or brain-damaged patients. So where is the FDA here? By law, no drug can make a claim to treat disease without FDA approval for each treatment use. If you want to use a drug approved to treat heart disease on patients with diabetes, you have to seek the FDA’s approval of the drug specifically for diabetes—and pay another billion dollars for the clinical trials and drug approval process.

Antipsychotic drugs have a long list of serious side effects [5], including hypotension, movement disorders, and metabolic syndrome issues.

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