Trend: Nursing homes big users of antipsychotic meds

In recent times, nursing homes' use of antipsychotic drugs for patients without psychosis has gone up significantly--a trend which is beginning to catch the eye of regulators, consumer groups and even some nursing home industry leaders. According to CMS data, 21 percent of nursing home residents who haven't been diagnosed with psychosis are still getting off-label antipsychotic prescriptions, particularly dementia and Alzheimer's patients. According to analysts, this is part of why the sales of antipsychotics have grown so rapidly in the U.S., hitting $11.7 billion last year from $6.6 billion in 2002.

Patient advocates say that the extensive use of antipsychotics is happening, in many cases, because Medicaid will pay for such drugs, but not for the extra staff needed to control demented patients through other means.

To find out more about this trend:
- read this Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report piece