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Researchers Investigate Prescribing Practices of Anti-Psychotics to Seniors

Christine Eke3 years ago

The George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) conducted a study that combines pharmaceutical marketing data collected by the District with publicly available data on nursing home quality and Medicare drug claims.

The District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) reports on these findings, and releases information pertaining to drug prescription rates, targets, and relationship of drug-companies to physicians.

Washington D.C. Anti-Psychotic Prescription Rates

“The good news is that nursing homes in the District of Columbia generally are not prescribing anti-psychotic medication at rates higher than the rest of the country.” – Susan F. Wood, PhD. as published by News-Medical

According to News-Medical, the study looked at how nursing homes in the District were prescribing anti-psychotic medications, such as abilify and seroquel, to their patients as compared to the rest of the country.

While the study found that D.C. is on par with the rest of the nation in its anti-psychotic prescription rates,  there is still concern that such prescriptions are too hastily issued leading to federal investigations and a nationwide safey campaign.

Elderly patients in the District are amongst the most vulnerable in the population. Elderly patients suffering from dementia or agitation may be dosed with the anti-psychotics to help sedate them. This procedure may prove to be risky because of the side effects associated, including cognitive decline all the way to death.

Big Pharmaceutical Companies and Medicare Part D

From 2007 – 2011 SPHHS researched District of Columbia marketing data for reports of drug-company gifts made to physicians who currently serve as nursing home medical directors to see if marketing was a targeted effort at these homes. About half (nine) of the 19 nursing home’s directors did not receive gifts in those years. The other half received gifts ranging from cash money to food or books.

Researchers also examined Medicare Part D patients, the majority of whom are seniors, and prescriptions of anti-psychotic medications on 67 District Medicare providers. The findings show that about 1 in 3 (22 out of 67) of these providers prescribed at least one anti-psychotic medication to at least 70 percent of their Part D patients, raising concerns about the quality of care elderly patients are receiving and the role pharmaceutical companies play in prescribing practices.

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