Grassley Seeks Probe On Antipsychotic Use In Nursing Homes

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Antipsychotic Use In Nursing Homes

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) in a letter on Tuesday asked HHSInspector General Daniel Levinson to examine the use of antipsychoticsin nursing homes, the possibility of payments to physicians whoprescribe the medications and the drugs' cost to Medicare and Medicaid,the Wall Street Journal reports. According to a Journal articlespublished on Tuesday, which Grassley cited in the letter,antipsychotics have become the most expensive class of medications forMedicaid. Nursing homes often administer the medications to dementiapatients to quiet their symptoms.

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In 2005, Medicaid spent $5.4billion on atypical antipsychotics, not including rebates that thefederal government might receive. Grassley also asked CMSfor information about how the agency responds to nursing homes thatmisuse antipsychotics, a practice he called "disturbing and alarming."

Aspokesperson for Levinson said that the HHS inspector general and hisstaff are giving the issue "very careful consideration."

Separately,Grassley sent letters to companies that manufacture threeantipsychotics asking for documents about efforts to market themedications directly or indirectly for use in nursing home patients. Johnson & Johnson and Janssen, a division of J&J that manufactures Risperdal; Eli Lilly, which manufactures Zyprexa; and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals,a division of AstraZeneca that manufactures Seroquel, received letters.Representatives from the companies said that they will cooperate withthe request (Legnado, Wall Street Journal, 12/6).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. Youcan view the entire Kaiser DailyHealth Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email deliveryat kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily HealthPolicy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The HenryJ. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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