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U.S. senators propose federal guidelines for use of antipsychotics in nursing homes

May 25, 2012
by Charlene Marietti
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A proposed amendment to pending legislation would require federal regulators to issue guidelines requiring nursing homes to get permission from patients or designated advocates before administering antipsychotics, the Boston Globe reports. The three senators-- Senators Herb Kohl, D-Wis., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.—have filed the proposal and seek a policy that restricts the drugs from being used to manage behavioral symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

Although many facilities use the powerful drugs off-label, a number of studies have been published showing that their use in elderly patients with dementia, but no mental illness, is harmful. The proposal follows recent charges of  illegally dispensing painkillers without the proper prescriptions or authorizations required by the Controlled Substance Act, Covington, Ky.-based Omnicare, the nation’s second largest long-term care pharmacy provider, agreed to a $50 million civil settlement with the Department of Justice following a Drug Enforcement Agency investigation of complaints.

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