Healthcare

Antipsychotic prescription use at nursing homes declines

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Fewer nursing home residents are taking antipsychotic drugs after a campaign to address overprescribing, according to a new Obama administration report. 

{mosads}The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) report finds that 18.7 percent of long-term nursing home residents received an antipsychotic this year, compared to 23.9 percent in 2011, a decline of about one-fifth. 

Antipsychotic drugs are often prescribed to people with dementia to deal with behaviors such as yelling and physical outbursts. There are concerns that the drugs are not necessary in some cases, or that non-drug therapies are not being tried.

Many of the prescriptions are “off-label,” meaning not for uses approved by the Food and Drug Administration. 

The Medicare prescription drug program paid $363 million in 2012 for antipsychotics for people with dementia, according to a Government Accountability Office report. 

In February, the CMS added measures on appropriate antipsychotic prescribing to its system of rating nursing homes.   

The American Health Care Association (AHCA), the nursing home trade group, is participating in a public-private partnership to address issues in dementia care. 

The association touted the results of the report Monday. 

“Together with CMS and AHCA’s Quality Initiative, more than 35,000 nursing center residents living with dementia are no longer receiving antipsychotic medications,” said Mark Parkinson, the AHCA’s president and chief executive. “But we can’t stop there. We are working to safely reduce the use of the medication by a total of 30 percent over the next two years and are well on our way.”

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