Last fall, a CNN investigative report uncovered the misuse of a drug called Nuedexta, intended to control spontaneous crying, laughing, and other emotional reactions in those suffering from PBA (pseudobulbular affect). PBA is extremely rare and is most commonly seen in those suffering from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) or MS (multiple sclerosis).
Experts estimate that occurrence of PBA in the elderly is less than 5%. If that’s the case, then why are so many elderly nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia taking Nuedexta?
Off-Label Nuedexta Use Carries Significant Risks
According to CNN’s findings, there has been a 400% jump in Nuedexta sales since 2012. Their research dug up a long list of physicians who have been paid hundreds of thousands each and enjoyed lavish trips and dinners, all while touting the benefits of the drug and prescribing it to their own patients. As with all pharmaceuticals, the problem with off-label use is always the potential for side effects. Nuedexta has been found to double the risk of falls in the elderly, likely due to the drug’s common side effect of dizziness. The drug has not been approved for use in patients without PBA and the website for Avanir, the manufacturer, describes the drug as being intended to treat only those with the condition. Avatar’s website also specifically states that “PBA is distinct and different from other types of emotional changes caused by neurologic disease or injury.” Emotional reactions from PBA are different than those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Doctors are prescribing the drug so frequently to those without PBA in long term care settings for a disturbing reason. According to experts, patients taking Nuedexta are less likely to have any sort of emotional outburst, therefore making them an easier patient to control. It’s no different than the overprescribing of sedatives to make the night shift easier for nursing home staff, a practice commonly known as chemical restraint. Misusing drugs in order to make the workplace calmer is not only ethically wrong, but it’s extremely dangerous.
If Your Loved One Fallen While Taking Nuedexta, You Need an Attorney
Upon the release of CNN’s Nuedexta report, our firm reviewed the findings and discussed the benefits of finding out if your loved one’s doctor has ties to a drugmaker. We still recommend looking into your physician’s business dealings with pharmaceutical companies, particularly if you suspect a drug has been improperly prescribed. But what next? If you have a loved one that has fallen in a nursing home and was prescribed Nuedexta at the time, you may have a case against the nursing home and even the drug company. The FDA has not approved Nuedexta to treat and tame behaviors associated with dementia and your loved one shouldn’t be taking it to make someone else’s job easier. The Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti have over 25 years experience holding nursing homes accountable and getting results from families like yours. Please, call us now for a free consultation at (312) 332-2872, or request a free online case evaluation. We do not get paid unless we recover money for you.