CNN recently reported a disturbing trend occurring in nursing homes throughout the country, whereby physicians are prescribing Nuedexta, a pill designed to treat pseudobulbar affect (more commonly known as PBA), to elder nursing home patients. The main problem is, Nuedexta isn’t being prescribed in nursing homes to treat PBA; instead, it is being prescribed to dementia patients with little to no scientific or medical justification.
According to the report, “geriatric physicians, dementia researchers and other medical experts told CNN that PBA is extremely rare in dementia patients; several said it affects 5% or less.” It further found that “[t]here is little to no medical literature to support the drug’s use in nursing home residents (with dementia) – the population is apparently being targeted.
A Los Angeles nursing home under investigation by regulators was found to have prescribed Nuedexta to more than a quarter of its residents after a facility psychiatrist, paid by the manufacturer of the drug Avanir, gave a talk about the drug to employees of the facility. Thousands of the doctors prescribing Nuedexta have received money or other benefits from its maker, Avanir. In fact, between 2013 and 2016, government data shows that Avanir paid doctors nearly $14 million for Nuedexta-related consulting, promotional speaking and other services.
The article further found that at the Montrose Healthcare Center near Los Angeles, three nursing home residents were given Nuedexta without a doctor’s prescription or approval. All were cognitively impaired. One was known to call out for help, while another would cry when their family left the facility. Employees acknowledged that they had never seen the residents laugh or cry involuntarily – the hallmark indicators of PBA. These practices raise serious legal issues.
Specifically, title 42 of the Code of Federal Regulations, §483.12, provides in part that long-term care facilities (nursing homes) are required to “[e]nsure the resident is free from physical or chemical restraints imposed for purposes of discipline or convenience and that are not required to treat the resident’s medical symptoms.”
At KHS, we are specialized in detecting and litigating abuses committed against nursing home residents, including the use of chemical restraints to curtail behavior related to dementia and other mental or physical infirmities commonly suffered by the elder population. Call us for a free consultation.
To access the CNN Article please go to: http://www.cnn.com/2017/10/12/health/nuedexta-nursing-homes-invs/index.html