Use of a new generation of antipsychotic drugs to control the behavior of dementia patients has surged in recent years, despite the Food and Drug Administration’s “black box” warning labels that these drugs can increase the risk of death for elderly dementia sufferers. About 30% of nursing-home residents are on antipsychotic drugs, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, most of them on newer ones called atypical antipsychotics.
Medicaid in 2005 spent $5.4 billion on atypical antipsychotic medicines — more than it spent on any other class of drugs, including antibiotics, AIDS drugs or medicines to treat high blood pressure. Atypical antipsychotics are approved for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But in what is known as “off label” use, doctors often prescribe the drugs to elderly people with dementia.
Why do the nursing homes use these drugs? Because a “doped up” resident doesn’t need as much attention and care! They just lie in their beds or sit in their chairs! Less attention and care means fewer staff is needed…which means reduced cost of doing business….which means greater profits for the corporate owners!