On December 8, 2010, Patricia McGinnis, CANHR’s Executive Director, will speak to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging on CANHR’s campaign to end the epidemic misuse of antipsychotic drugs by nursing homes to chemically restrain residents who suffer from dementia. By invitation of the Committee, Ms. McGinnis is presenting at its forum: Until There’s a Cure: How to Help Alzheimer’s Patients and Families Now. A webcast of the forum will be posted to the Senate Committee’s website following the event
Nationally, more than 350,000 nursing home residents – one of every four residents – are given dangerous antipsychotic drugs. Most of the residents who are given antipsychotics have dementia and are being drugged despite FDA warnings that these drugs are likely to cause their deaths. Antipsychotic drugs have many other serious side effects and do little to help alleviate behavioral symptoms of dementia, often making them worse.
Ms. McGinnis is calling on the federal government to establish an education campaign to alert the public about the dangers posed by antipsychotic drugs to people with dementia and to inform them about alternative care approaches that are effective, safe and dignified. Her statement also urges Congress to strengthen a nursing home resident’s right to informed consent before drugs are used, to hold hearings on the misuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, and to investigate the pervasive, illegal marketing of antipsychotics as a treatment for dementia by drug manufacturers.
“The way antipsychotic drugs are used in nursing homes is a form of elder abuse,” said Ms. McGinnis. “It is a shameful situation, but solutions are at hand.”
CANHR launched its campaign to stop nursing home misuse of antipsychotic drugs earlier this year. The campaign features a first-of-its-kind website (www.canhr.org/stop-drugging) that focuses exclusively on this subject, educational information and advice for consumers including data on each California nursing home’s use of antipsychotic drugs, a petition to urge the Governor to crack down on illegal drugging, and The Stop Drugging Our Elders Blog.
As part of its campaign, CANHR plans to sponsor legislation in 2011 to ensure that nursing homes do not use psychoactive drugs unless the residents or their representatives have given consent after being fully informed about the risks and alternatives.