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Nursing Home Chemical Restraints Part of State AG’s Lawsuit

One of the more nuanced forms of Illinois nursing home neglect involves the dangerous use of antipsychotic medication as a form of chemical restraint. The widespread dissemination of these drugs in nursing homes led many elder care advocates to raise the warnings about the harm they can cause. These medications have been shown to both severely diminish the quality of life for some residents and drastically increase the risk of death in others. Local caregivers who recklessly use medication in this area are likely liable for Illinois nursing home neglect because of their conduct.

It is no surprise then that one state’s chief legal officer recently filed suit against the manufacturer of one of these drugs for illegally marketing the product for unsafe uses. According to a state press release, the Massachusetts Attorney General recently filed a lawsuit against Risperdal manufacturer Ortho-McNeil-Janssen. The state uncovered evidence that the company promoted used of Risperdal for elderly patients with dementia even though use by dementia patients has not been shown to be safe or effective. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the medication for use with these residents.

The recently filed complaint alleges that the large drug manufacturer failed to disclose serious risks related to use of Risperdal. Those risks included weight gain, diabetes, and an increased risk of death for dementia patients. It needs no explanation to realize that hiding information about these risks and allowing residents to be given this medication without warning constitutes clear recklessness. Unfortunately, it seems that this is another case of a company that put profits ahead of all else. In an effort to increase sales of the medication, the company was willing to put the lives of vulnerable seniors on the line.

The newly filed lawsuit lists a long string of the drug manufacturer’s actions indicative of deceptive and unfair practices. For example, the company allegedly omitted and concealed information about the drug’s safety when interacting with state health care providers and consumers. The company did not mention that use of the drug had been found to be potentially fatal for dementia patients. In fact, the FDA has specifically rejected the company’s request to market Risperdal for these uses because of concerns about the safety of the drug for these residents.

Beyond the concealment claims, the state attorney general also alleges a complex scheme of deception on the company’s behalf to mislead consumers about the product’s use. For example, the complaint claims that the drug manufacturer paid physicians to participate in “consulting programs” that were actually mere marketing projects intended to sell the drug for unapproved uses. The intention to sell the drug for dangerous uses was further evidenced by the company’s aggressive marketing efforts to those who rarely if ever see patients who might suffer from conditions for which the drug has been approved to treat.

Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys at Levin & Perconti have worked with many families whose loved ones have been victimized by overmedication at nursing homes. There is no excuse for a facility to put residents in a near comatose state so that they are easier to control. Be sure to stand up for the rights of your loved one if they may have suffered for this form of poor Chicago elder abuse.

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