No scientific rationale
Geriatric physicians, medical researchers, and other experts say that PBA is a disorder only rarely seen in patients with dementia. The percentage of people being affected by these two conditions at the same time is less than five percent. State regulators have found in their inquiries that many nursing homes are even using Nuedexta for patients with agitated and weird behavioral symptoms.
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There is no concrete scientific evidence to justify the use of this little red pill for elderly residents of nursing homes who suffer from neurological disorders. Critics of this treatment believe that elderly in the nursing homes are a vulnerable group and become easy targets for marketers who are under pressure to meet their sales goals.
In a nursing home in California, a psychiatrist received about half a million dollars in payment over a period of just three years from Avanir and its parent company Otsuka. He also received separate perks for traveling and food. The psychiatrist had prescribed the Nuedexta drug to many patients.
In another case in Los Angeles, the red pill was given by a psychiatrist to residents in a local nursing home. The psychiatrist was a paid speaker there, on behalf of Avanir. In Southern California in 2015, a nursing home employee admitted to inspectors about the usage of Nuedexta on people who were not in need of the drug.
In Ohio, a physician paid by Avanir recently came under the scrutiny of the government. He was allegedly receiving substantial payments and kickbacks for prescribing Nuedexta to patients who were “suddenly diagnosed” with PBA. The doctor denied these accusations, of course.
Misuse of Medicare funds
The federal government has noted that a considerable chunk of finances was spent on Nuedexta from the Medicare funds. The drug was found to have been prescribed mainly for people who are aged 65 and above. The available data from 2015 reveals that of the total Medicare funds, $130 million was spent on just Nuedexta.
Medicare funds were created to pay for the use of drugs that are safe for patients. The Nuedexta drug, the first one of its kind, has been approved by the FDA. But the approval has been given with specific condition to only cater to the needs of the patients suffering from PBA. The doctors prescribing it as an off-label drug to patients not suffering from PBA is technically not covered under Medical funds. A key reason for Avanir’s soaring success has Medicare funds.