Drugmakers use nursing home residents to push off label uses of drugs to defraud Medicare

Drugmakers have found a way to make more money by defrauding Medicare by marketing the off label uses of drugs to nursing home patients. This large group of helpless, hapless people can do nothing to stop being used as guinea pigs.

One example is Par Pharmaceuticals which paid $45 million this year to settle federal charges that it promoted Megace ES, a drug treatment approved for appetite loss in AIDS patients. Instead, PAR pushed the produce for nursing home and hospice residents. In court documents the government said that the Par reps and management knew that they called on very few facilities with AIDS patients. They sold it instead to the old people.

In addition, the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes is rampant–all billed to Medicare.Nationwide, 25 percent of nursing home patients are on antipsychotics, according to a study by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It is even more widespread in North Jersey, where facilities report up to 37 percent of their patients have been given the drugs.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has set a directive that facilities should reduce their use of the medications by 15 percent, but few homes have complied.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers