Nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and hospitals are often favored targets of those selling pharmaceuticals. Sales representatives are often out to get doctors to prescribe specific medications. Often, these representatives are pushing drugs that are manufactured to treat a specific condition, but sometimes, they push a drug that has not been fully tested as an option for diseases that the drug may not be beneficial in treating.
Healthline reports on a medication that critics say is being over-prescribed in nursing homes. Avanir, the manufacturer of the prescription drug Nuedexta, has come under fire by critics for the allegation that sales representatives targeted nursing homes to prescribe the medication for seniors with dementia.
The medication, which was approved by the FDA in 2010, was originally intended to treat pseudobulbar effect (PBA). PBA is primarily associated with people who have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The condition is characterized by episodes of sudden uncontrollable crying or laughing.
While it can occur, only 5% of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients suffer from PBA. Yet, sales representatives were instructed to aggressively target nursing facilities and doctors to prescribe the medication to seniors with those conditions. A tactic that has proven to be very profitable.
In 2016, sales of Nuedexta totaled nearly $300 million, which was up 400 percent from sales in 2012.
Use of Nuedexta has not been extensively studied in elderly patients, yet investigation found that at one California nursing home, nearly one-fourth of all patients were prescribed the drug. More than half of all Nuedexta prescriptions are for patients residing in long-term care facilities.
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