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District nursing homes win high marks for quality, but antipsychotic prescribing remains problematic
Date:10/19/2013

WASHINGTON, DC (October 17, 2013)The District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) has released a study by the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services (SPHHS) investigating prescribing of antipsychotics to District seniors. The study combines pharmaceutical marketing data collected by the District with publicly available data on nursing home quality and Medicare drug claims.

"The good news is that nursing homes in the District of Columbia generally are not prescribing antipsychotic medication at rates higher than the rest of the country," says Susan F. Wood, PhD, lead researcher and an associate professor of health policy and of environmental and occupational health at SPHHS. "However, there are still concerns that District providers are too quick to prescribe these drugs to District seniors and Medicaid beneficiaries."

Antipsychotics are one of the top-selling drug classes, despite widely reported side effects that include weight gain and sedation. Elderly patients suffering from dementia or agitation may be dosed with antipsychotics for their sedative effects, an off-label use that raises ethical questions. Use of antipsychotics puts seniors at increased risk of serious adverse events, including cognitive decline, hip fractures, and death.

"Senior citizens living in the District of Columbia are the city's most vulnerable population," said Dr. Joxel Garcia, Director, DC Department of Health. "The Department of Health will continue to invest in educating physicians on effective use of antipsychotic medications to provide the better health outcomes for all District residents."

The report fulfills the requirement of a 2004 law in the District of Columbia that requires pharmaceutical companies to file annual reports describing their prescription-drug marketing activities in the District. The AccessRx Act also requires analysis of these reports to determine how pharmaceutical marketing may aff
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Contact: Kathy Fackelmann
kfackelmann@gwu.edu
202-994-8354
George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services
Source:Eurekalert

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