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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Abbott Pharmaceuticals Alleged to Have Promoted Depakote as a Chemical Restraint

Abbott Pharmaceuticals manufactures a medicine called Depakote. This drug was approved by the FDA to treat mild seizures, manic bipolar disorder, and certain types of migraines. However, in a recent lawsuit, several Abbott employees allege that Abbott illegally promoted its drugs for other uses not approved by the FDA. Specifically these employees alleged that Abbott encouraged doctors to prescribe Depakote to nursing home patients as a chemical sedative to combat aggression associated with dementia. This is known as a "chemical restraint", a drug used to subdue a patient. It is further alleged that Abbott gave kickbacks to doctors who were willing to promote Depakote for these improper or “off-label” uses, and even trained those doctors to label their diagnoses in a certain way so that Depakote appeared to be a justified prescription.

This is just one of many examples in which drug manufacturers have been accused of encouraging doctors to prescribe drugs for “off-label” purposes in order to try to exploit nursing home residents (and their Medicaid benefits) at the expense of the patients’ welfare. In light of these allegations Illinois has created the Nursing Home Safety Task Force to try to combat the improper use of chemical restraints. In its final report, the task force acknowledges that the current practice of allowing “off-label” prescriptions to be administered in the sole discretion of nursing home staff is problematic has led to numerous complaints. In response, the Task Force specifically called for the State to “[d]evelop a policy to assure proper use of psychotropic drugs for people with serious mental illness and dementia.”

The attorneys at Keating Law Offices support the Task Force’s recommendations. The improper and indiscriminate use of chemical restraints is a dangerous practice that not only endangers the safety of nursing home residents but also violates their rights under the
Illinois Nursing Home Care Act. The personal injury attorneys at Keating Legal are here to fight for those rights; if you are concerned that a friend or loves one is being prescribe improper or excessive medication, or has been injured as a result of improper chemical restraint please contact Illinois Nursing Home Attorney Mike Keating at 312-208-7702 or MKeating@KeatingLegal.com. All initial consultations are confidential and free.