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CMS announces partnership to reduce improper antipsychotic drug use

May 30, 2012
by pamela tabar
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In response to this week’s failure of a proposed amendment meant to curb the “off-label” use of antipsychotic drugs to control elderly residents with dementia, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced a new collaborative initiative to combat the problem. The Partnership to Improve Dementia Care will involve federal and state agencies, advocacy groups and caregivers at nursing homes and other eldercare facilities.

CMS also has vowed to collect more data on antipsychotic drug use—and to post it on Nursing Home Compare. The partnership’s goal is to reduce the nursing home use of antipsychotics by 15 percent before the end of this year.

The failed legislative amendment, proposed as part of the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act, had hoped to place greater restrictions on the use of antipsychotic drugs for the elderly by requiring prior consent before administering antipsychotics to those with symptoms of dementia.

Antipsychotic medications are approved by the FDA as treatment for those with diagnosed behavioral disorders, but are considered “off-label” when given to elderly patients with dementia.

 “A CMS nursing home resident report found that almost 40 percent of nursing home patients with signs of dementia were receiving antipsychotic drugs at some point in 2010, even though there was no diagnosis of psychosis,” said CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of Clinical Standards and Quality Patrick Conway, MD, in a press statement. “Managing dementia without relying on medication can help improve the quality of life for these residents. The Partnership to Improve Dementia Care will equip residents, caregivers, and providers with the best tools to make the right decision.”

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