Posted on Monday, December 25th, 2017 at 3:02 pm
Nuedexta, a drug manufactured by the Southern California based company Avanir, has been heavily promoted as a means of dealing with a number of neurological disorders, especially pseudobulbar affect (PBA). However, despite the drug having FDA approval, it has been implicated in 51 deaths, 113 hospitalizations and over 1,000 reports of adverse effects. Even during clinical trials before the drug was cleared for release by the FDA, it was implicated in 3 deaths.
Despite PBA being relatively uncommon amongst the elderly in nursing homes together with doubts about the synergistic effects of Nuedexta when taken with other more commonly taken medications, the drug has been aggressively promoted to nursing homes and doctors.
Now, following a CNN investigation into Avanir and Nuedexta, the leading non-profit organization that supports those with Alzheimer’s and their families the Alzheimer’s association, has curtailed funding donations from the company. Los Angeles City is also carrying out its own probe into the use of the drug in L.A. nursing homes and the way the drug is promoted.
Avanir has only recently won a patent war with its competitors over generic versions of the drug and it is thought that the aggressive marketing is linked to an attempt by the company to balance its books after spending up big in the court battles.
The main criticism of Avanir is that it is winning influence amongst doctors and nursing home management by providing cash incentives if they help their organizations purchase the drug. In one survey, it was shown that of the prescriptions made by doctors, over half of them had already been given financial inducements by Avanir.
The tactic seems to have been working as the sale of Nuedexta has increased by some 400% over the last few years since it was released. In 2012, for example, a mere 2.83 million pills were prescribed, but by 2016, nearly 14 million Nuedexta pills were prescribed.
Much of the money made available for purchase of Nuedexta comes from the federal government through Medicare payments.
No clear evidence that Nuedexta is needed in nursing homes
Although there is no detailed evidence to show what the use of Nuedexta is like in San Antonio nursing homes is like, there is nothing to indicate that Texas nursing home managements have taken a more cautious line over purchasing the drug, despite the fact that there is no clear evidence that Nuedexta does any elderly nursing home residents any good.
In fact, the evidence elsewhere is that the drug could be doing more harm than good, unless the residents it is provided for suffer from both dementia as well as PBA. It has been reported that PBA is not common in any nursing home. Nursing home residents have been reported to have a higher incidence of falling over, confusion and dizzy spells.
The concern with Nuedexta’s use in nursing homes, in addition to the unproven benefits for residents, is that its application will be poorly carried out by untrained staff who are a feature in many nursing homes.
Avanir has also been accused of deliberately targeting advocacy groups for dementia and Alzheimer’s even though there is no evidence that the drug it makes has any effects on these afflictions.
If you have an elderly relative in a San Antonio nursing home or residential care facility it may be worth asking the management at the facility whether it is using Nuedexta and if it is whether it is one of the medications being given to your relative. Does your relative suffer from PBA, or show signs of dementia? Find out whether the relative has been exhibiting any of the characteristic symptoms of unnecessary use of Nuedexta, such as dizziness, confusion and falling over. There is no need for your relative to be given Nuedexta unless he or she has been suffering from PBA. Talk to a nursing home abuse attorney at Patino Law Office in San Antonio to find out what your legal options are.